Washington ER doctor loses job after criticizing hospital’s coronavirus response

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A Washington state emergency room doctor has been fired after going on Facebook and TV and publicly accusing the hospital where he worked of a slow response to the coronavirus that exposed staff to danger.

Ming Lin showed up for work at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center on Friday and was told he had been terminated before the start of his shift, The Seattle Times reported.

“I got a message that said, ‘Your shift has been covered,’” Lin told the paper.

The hospital employed Lin for 17 years under a contract with TeamHealth, a national health care staffing company.

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TeamHealth told The Associated Press in an email Saturday that it would try and find Lin a job somewhere else. The company insisted Lin had not been fired.

A photo taken Friday, March 27, 2020, in Bellingham, Wash., and provided by Ming Lin hows Dr. Ming Lin, an emergency room doctor at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham. Lin said Friday he was fired after publicly criticizing the hospital’s coronavirus preparations. (Dr. Ming Lin via AP)

A photo taken Friday, March 27, 2020, in Bellingham, Wash., and provided by Ming Lin hows Dr. Ming Lin, an emergency room doctor at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham. Lin said Friday he was fired after publicly criticizing the hospital’s coronavirus preparations. (Dr. Ming Lin via AP)

On Facebook and in media interviews, Lin criticized the hospital for a sluggish response to the coronavirus threat. He charged that the hospital was slow to screen visitors, negligent in not testing staff, wrong to rely on a company that was taking 10 days to process COVID-19 test results, and derelict in obtaining protective equipment for staff.

He described taking steps to help the hospital obtain cots and personal protective gear being offered by local companies — efforts that garnered him a loyal local following but, he said, also brought warnings from superiors to stop speaking out.

“I just sent this letter to our [Chief Medical Officer],” he said on Facebook. “Hopefully I still have a job afterwards.”

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“PeaceHealth is so far behind when it comes to protecting patients and the community but even worse when it comes to protecting the staff,” he wrote.

Lin told The Seattle Times he had been told to take down his social media posts about the hospital but refused.

A hospital representative confirmed that Lin had been fired but declined further comment, the paper reported.

The hospital is the only emergency facility for some 250,000 people in the state’s northwest corner, according to the paper.

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The hospital reported “several” staffers have tested positive for the virus but insisted the infections were unrelated to their jobs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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