A Washington state emergency room doctor who publicly spoke out about what he called a lack of protective measures being implemented against the coronavirus at his hospital has been fired.
Dr. Ming Lin, who has worked at the hospital for 17 years and worked in a trauma center near the World Trade Center in New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said that he was terminated from his job at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington, in a Facebook post on Friday.
Lin was informed of his termination about 20 minutes before his shift at the hospital Friday afternoon, he told The Seattle Times.
His firing comes after he made multiple public pleas on social media and through the news media for his employer to acquire more safety equipment to protect staff during the COVID-19 outbreak.
When he called his supervisor, he was reportedly told, “You’ve been terminated.”
“I’ll be OK,” he told the outlet. “It’s a blow to my ego more than anything.”
A spokesperson for PeaceHealth St. Joseph confirmed to The Seattle Times that Lin had been terminated by the hospital but declined to provide comment.
A TeamHealth spokesperson said in a statement that Lin has not been terminated by the contractor and that the company “is committed to engaging with him to try to find a path forward.”
“Now more than ever, we need every available doctor, and we will work with Dr. Lin to find the right location for him,” the spokesperson said.
Lin, who has had been regularly posting to his Facebook page about the conditions in the hospital, told The Seattle Times that his supervisors threatened to fire him earlier this month after he spoke with reporters, but the doctor refused to take his social media posts down when asked.
He alleged that PeaceHealth St. Joseph refused to screen all patients outside the hospital, bringing potential COVID-19 patients into the emergency room waiting area, which is frequently crowded.
Two emergency department workers also shared Lin’s concerns with the news outlet about the possible spread of the virus.
In a YouTube video filmed before his firing, Lin said nurses triaging potential COVID-19 patients exhibiting cough or fever weren’t provided masks.
“I’m not sure what St. Joe’s motive is. I’m not going to comment whether this is some financial issue or whatever it is,” Lin said in the video. “I think when a hospital to me is not just responsible for the patients there, but it needs to stand out in the community as a leader to protect the unwanted, to protect the homeless, to protect the elderly.”