Fact Check: More Than 75 Doctors Did NOT 'Walk Out Of A South Florida Hospital Rather Than Treat The Unvaccinated' -- It Was A Demonstration

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: More Than 75 Doctors Did NOT 'Walk Out Of A South Florida Hospital Rather Than Treat The Unvaccinated' -- It Was A Demonstration Wrong Details

Did more than 75 doctors walk out of a south Florida hospital rather than treat unvaccinated COVID-19 patients? No, that's not true: The event was not a "walkout," as the doctors did not interrupt their workday to gather for what one participant called a demonstration. Doctors who spoke at the event in support of vaccination did not say that they would refuse to treat unvaccinated patients and participants Lead Stories interviewed after the event said there was no walkout.

The claim appeared in a tweet (archived here) published on August 23, 2021, by Chuck Callesto. The tweet read:

BREAKING REPORT: More Than 75 Doctors WALK OUT OF SOUTH FLORIDA HOSPITAL Rather Than Treat the Unvaccinated...

This is what the post looked like on Twitter on August 23, 2021:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Aug 23 22:10:30 2021 UTC)

The event took place the morning of August 23, 2021, in Palm Beach County, Florida. In a phone call with Lead Stories on August 23, 2021, Dr. Naveen Reddy, a gastroenterologist who attended the event, said of the tweet making the claim:

No, that's not true at all.

Having posted his own tweets about the event, Reddy reemphasized during the phone call that the doctors were not abandoning their posts to be there. He characterized the event as a "demonstration" rather than a "walkout." Additionally, he said that the doctors were not all from one hospital -- for example, Reddy has his own practice. Two of his tweets about the event can be found here (archived here). The thread is also embedded below:

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Aug 23 22:16:27 2021 UTC)

The event was organized by neurologist Dr. Jennifer Buczyner. Based on footage of the event (archived here) captured by ABC News affiliate WPBF 25, Buczyner made the opening remarks. At the 0:12-mark, she said:

We are all here behind me to gather as your community doctors and hospitals with one simple message that can save your life: please go get vaccinated and wear a mask. We come from all different hospitals and groups to share this message with all of you. We're here early morning on a Monday before we head to our offices, our hospitals, our ICUs, our emergency rooms and our operating rooms to care for the community and your loved ones.

Dr. Ethan Chapin, an emergency medicine physician, implied that he would be seeing unvaccinated COVID-19 patients that day. At the 2:45-mark, he said:

When I leave here I'm going to a shift at Jupiter Medical Center to have a long Monday in the ER. And it's gonna be a privilege to be trusted with your friends, your families, to take care of them in their time of need.

But the number of people I'm gonna see today who I don't need to, who don't need to be there, who shouldn't have been there in the first place if they had taken the simple advice of getting vaccinated -- all we're asking is in the same way you've trusted us in the past to take care of you, your families, your friends, your kids, trust us now in what we're telling you in that this vaccine is safe, and it can save your life.

Dr. JT Snarski, another emergency medicine physician, said at the 3:35-mark:

As a first-line emergency physician of Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, I'm proud to be part of an excellent team of doctors and nurses that have all stepped up to the increasing demands that the pandemic is placing on us. We have been increasing our staff and hours to meet the demands and needs of our community. We can't do it alone though. We need your help: please get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe, effective and prevents hospitalizations.

Lead Stories watched the news conference in its entirety as it was presented on WPBF 25 and did not hear any of the speakers say that they would refuse to treat unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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