YUMA, AZ — An Arizona doctor says he was fired from his position at a rural hospital after raising concerns about the severity of COVID-19 in the state.
Dr. Cleavon Gilman is an emergency room doctor who has been working at Yuma Regional Medical Center since Arizona’s first surge of COVID-19.
Dr. Gilman, an Iraq war veteran and former emergency room doctor in New York, has been vocal about the response by Arizona leaders for not taking more measures to slow the spread of the virus.
“I feel this moral obligation to tell people what’s happening on the front lines,” said Gilman.
On November 23, Gilman took to social media to talk about a shift he was working where there were no ICU beds in the state to transfer patients.
🧵NO ICU BEDS! When our rural Arizona hospital ICU is full, we medevac patients to different hospitals across the state, BUT NOT TONIGHT, because there were NO ACCEPTING HOSPITALS, so for an entire 12 hour shift we managed ICU patients, while treating other emergencies. 1/13
— Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) November 23, 2020
Gilman tells ABC15, the day after the social media post that went viral, he was told to not return to work. “I was contacted by Envision Health Services who employed me, it’s a staffing agency, the hospital reached out to them and they did not want me back at the hospital.”
For the ER doctor, he said it’s a slap in the face. “There’s a hospital administration part that I don’t even know, that just one day told me I can’t come back to work, imagine that and imagine being a front line healthcare worker and experiencing all that trauma.”
The hospital responded on social media in a tweet saying that “it’s clear there has been a misunderstanding,” a statement read. “Dr. Cleavon Gilman, who is employed by EmCare/Envision — a national company that contracts with YRMC, is scheduled to work at YRMC this weekend.”
Gilman said on Friday that he has not worked for three weeks since that post and each shift he’s been scheduled, he’s been asked not to come in
A message from Yuma Regional Medical Center. pic.twitter.com/fHsVx2bguo
— YumaRegional (@YumaRegional) December 11, 2020
Gilman has been in the national spotlight for his COVID-19 response as a frontline healthcare hero — working shifts in the ER where he has also journaled what he has seen.
We should be taking care of those taking care of us. Thank you @Cleavon_MD for the work you’ve done and will continue to do. You’ll need a vacation once this pandemic is over—and I’ll gladly send you and your immediate family anywhere you want to go. I’ll be in touch 🙏🏽👨🏽⚕️ https://t.co/4pFkZR9rnt
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) December 12, 2020
Last week, President-elect Joe Biden reached out to Gilman to thank him for his service.
We are thankful to Dr. Gilman and all the inspiring frontline workers who risk their lives to protect us during this pandemic.
We promise you this: You have a partner in the Biden-Harris administration. pic.twitter.com/vcDDL0rOLh
— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) December 6, 2020
Asked about what’s next and if he will return to YMRC, Gilman said it’s about trust. “I think what people need is the truth and I can’t trust a place like that, and I’m just being honest, that’s how I’ve always been.”
Gilman is one of few in the state who speak up and raise concerns about what’s happening inside our hospital systems. Most ER doctors, nurses and those on the front line are scared to speak without the support of their hospital in fear of retaliation or being fired.
Gilman who says he cares about people, and Arizonans, said he’s concerned every day that the state leaders do not take action, “As a result hundreds of unnecessary people are going to die, and that’s a decision that’s made from the top.”