TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — An emergency room physician who charged $50 for opt-out letters to parents who don’t want their kids to wear masks in school has been removed from his position with a medical center following a social media call for his ouster.
As a stricter mask mandate requiring a medical excuse took hold Sunday in Florida's Leon County, Dr. Brian Warden posted a notice on a statewide anti-mask site inviting parents to contact him if they need a medical exemption letter. In another post, Warden said he’d provide a medical opt out letter on signed stationery for $50. Screenshots of the posts ricocheted around social media.
The recent medical school graduate had moved from Philadelphia to Tallahassee with his family to work for a physicians group that contracted with CRMC.
“We act with absolute integrity in all that we do, and it is our expectation that providers behave in a way that is consistent with those values,” CRMC spokeswoman Rachel Stiles said in an email Tuesday night. “Immediately upon learning of this physician’s actions, we began the process of removing him from providing services to our hospital patients.”
School mask, vaccine mandates: Which states have them? Do they work?
The hospital's CEO Alan Keesee informed the board of trustees of the decision at their regular meeting Tuesday, she said.
Warden had posted on his Facebook page that he was not signing forms in affiliation with any hospital or medical group and was in fact a licensed medical doctor. In July, Warden formed a limited liability company, Dove Field Health.
In a second post, he wrote that Facebook may be “thinking I am getting scammed or something” because he was not receiving messages.
"Comment here if you live in Florida and didn't get a response from me," he wrote. "I'll reach out to you."
The social media outcry began Monday and continued Tuesday with calls for his removal from CRMC and that he be reported to the Florida Board of Medicine.
He refused to speak more on the record until after he had met with his supervisor and the human resources department for the physicians group that hired him.
"I'm sorry. I'm not supposed to say anything," Warden texted a Tallahassee Democrat reporter after being informed of the hospital's decision.
Leon Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna announced Sunday that students in grades K-8 must wear a mask to school unless they had a medical excuse amid a surge in cases, hospitalizations and the death over the weekend of a local elementary school student. The school board voted 3-2 to back his decision, despite potential repercussions from the Department of Education, including withholding of funds.
About 3,000 opt-out forms, mostly parental opt-outs for older students, were turned in as of Tuesday night. It is unclear how many medical opt-out forms have been returned.
Warden graduated from Temple University School of Medicine in 2018 and did a three-year residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He received his Florida medical license in February, listing CRMC as his address of record.
Follow Jeffrey Schweers on Twitter: @jeffschweers
This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida doctor advertised $50 mask opt-out letters to parents for kids