A news conference was held early Monday morning by Palm Beach Gardens doctors to urge the community to get vaccinated and was undermined with false reports claiming that doctors walked off the job.
Doctors did NOT walk off the job or refuse to treat patients. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They were at the news conference before or after their shift to educate the public about how COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the community and had one simple message that can save your life — please get vaccinated and wear a mask.
Vaccines are effective in protecting you from COVID-19, especially severe illness, and death. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are over 95% effective for preventing hospitalization and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are 84% effective for preventing hospitalization.
As the delta variant continues to fuel the rapid spread of coronavirus cases in Florida, emergency rooms and ICUs are overwhelmed and overcrowded with COVID-19 patients.
Dozens of doctors from across Palm Beach County described the exhaustion, burnout, and struggle they’re all facing as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to surge in South Florida.
Multiple doctors said they are exhausted. They’ve treated COVID-19 patients for nearly a year and a half, and things are getting worse at a faster rate than at any other point in the pandemic.
“Many of these patients have decided not to get vaccinated, but when they’re hospitalized, they tell us they wish they had,” said Dr. Jennifer Buczyner, a neurologist and director of the stroke program at Jupiter Medical Center.
Palm Beach Gardens doctors held the news conference to alert the community that if COVID-19 cases continue to rise, hospitals could reach capacity, people would die, and urged the community to get vaccinated.
Florida infectious disease specialist, Dr. Leslie Diaz said, “Patients are young, 20 to 50 years old. It’s devastating to watch them die. It can be prevented with a vaccine that we know is safe and very effective.”
The Associated Press reported that MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” covered the news conference early Monday morning with a misleading on-screen caption: “SOUTH FLORIDA DOCTORS WALK OUT IN PROTEST.”
The network clarified on air Tuesday morning that doctors didn’t walk away from their jobs, but social media users and other news outlets had already picked up the language. Some criticized the doctors for allegedly withholding treatment.
The false claims have led to threats and harassment toward the doctors, their colleagues, and hospitals.
South Florida Doctors News Conference Facts
Here are the facts about the news conference, reported by the Associated Press (AP).
CLAIM: A group of 75 doctors in Florida walked out of their jobs to protest the number of unvaccinated patients overwhelming the state’s hospitals.
THE FACTS: No, that’s not true. The news conference took place before office hours and was intended to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks, according to doctors who participated. It wasn’t a protest or walkout.
“BREAKING REPORT: More Than 75 Doctors WALK OUT OF SOUTH FLORIDA HOSPITAL Rather Than Treat the Unvaccinated,” read one widely shared tweet.
Dr. Jennifer Buczyner organized the news conference to alert the community about vaccines and was frustrated by the false assertion.
She told the Associated Press, “This was a physician-driven press conference to encourage our community to get vaccinated and talk about the impact this has had on our community.”
An email sent to doctors inviting them to participate in the news conference was reviewed by the Associated Press. It urged local medical staff to attend a “Community ‘Get Vaccinated’ event” that would be covered by news media. It said the purpose of the event was to “encourage our community to get vaccinated and take this seriously.”
Dr. Buczyner said the mischaracterization of the event had diluted the news conference’s objective to encourage vaccinations and had led to harassment.
“The hospitals and our offices are receiving hate calls,” Buczyner said. “This was supposed to be a heartfelt positive message.”
MSNBC did not respond to an emailed request for comment sent by the Associated Press.
WPTV News recorded the entire news conference. As you watch the video you will see that the news conference message was very clear. Doctors said they can’t do it alone and they need your help. Their message is simple — Please get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe, effective, and prevents hospitalization.