MS hospital fires doctor, anti-vaccine leader for treating COVID patients with ivermectin

·3 min read

The founder of an anti-vaccine mandate group of Mississippi physicians said he was fired from his job at Yazoo City hospital emergency room on Friday.

Dr. John Witcher, an emergency physician working at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Yazoo City, said in a video his firing came after taking three patients off FDA-approved COVID-19 medication and replacing it with ivermectin. Baptist Memorial says he was working as an independent physician and was not a hospital employee.

Witcher, whose medical license was once revoked, leads Mississippi Against Mandates, a group of nine physicians who stand against hospitals requiring employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Their group has been circulating COVID vaccine misinformation online, purchasing billboards that advertise the “risks” of the shots and participating in rallies against mandates, including some on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

During a video posted Monday afternoon on Telegram, a messenger app where the doctor communicates with a growing community of vaccine skeptics across the state, Witcher said the hospital asked him to leave after requesting for his patients hospitalized with the virus to be treated with ivermectin, a widely discredited but viral medicine to treat COVID.

At that point, Witcher had taken the three patients off remdesivir, the health care industry’s main COVID treatment.

This screenshot of a YouTube video shows Dr. John Witcher talking about his opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
This screenshot of a YouTube video shows Dr. John Witcher talking about his opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

“I was aware I was going against the hospital policy on ivermectin but still felt like, as the treating physician of these patients, that I had that option,” Witcher said in the video.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Yazoo confirmed in a statement to the Sun Herald on Monday that Witcher no longer works at their facility.

“Dr. Jonathan Witcher no longer practices medicine as an independent physician at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Yazoo. At no time was he a Baptist employee,” the statement reads.

Witcher declined to comment on the matter.

In the Monday Telegram video, Witcher said he is an emergency physician and medical director at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Yazoo City. A representative for Baptist Health, which owns Baptist Memorial, has before told the Clarion Ledger that Witcher has privileges to practice at the hospital, but is not an employee of the health system.

Witcher said he was in his second year of a three-year contract with the hospital.

He now has “no control” over the patients he was caring for, he said, and the hospital won’t let him on their premises or on the computer system.

Witcher said he believes the three patients were put back on remdisivir.

“I’m concerned about that, I would like to have access to those patients,” he said.

Once called a “danger to society” by the MS Board of Medical Licensure after an investigation into over a decade of misconduct, Witcher said he decided to change the COVID patients’ medicine upon consultation with his network of colleagues on a group chat which included Mississippi doctors as well as Dr. Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist who has previously been exposed for promoting virus misinformation, among others.

Witcher’s influence is vast among the anti-vaccine community on the MS Gulf Coast. The doctor was in his white coat at the side of U.S. 90 during the Ingalls protest, and MS against Mandates T-shirts featuring his name are often worn at independent rallies, including one over the weekend at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport where health care workers stood against CMS vaccine mandates.

Health officials continue to support vaccination as the strongest defense against the virus and defend its safety. Mississippi’s top medical officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, has said the vaccines are “extremely safe and highly effective.”

This article and live event is supported by the Journalism and Public Information Fund, a fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

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