State Watch

Florida hospital removes doctor for offering parents $50 mask opt-out letters


A Florida hospital said it removed a local doctor who posted on social media that he would provide mask opt-out letters at a price of $50 each for parents who did not want their children to be required to comply with school mask mandates. 

The Capital Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Tallahassee said it had been notified of Facebook posts by Brian Warden, a recent medical school graduate who moved from Philadelphia to Tallahassee to work for a physicians group that contracted with the hospital, according to the Tallahassee Democrat

Screenshots shared by local CBS affiliate WCTV showed that Warden had posted in a Facebook group titled “Parents Against Masks,” telling Leon County parents to “private message” if him they needed a “medical exemption letter” for their child.

Warden said in a subsequent post that he was offering the service under Dove Field Health LLC, his own business which, according to Florida secretary of state records, was incorporated on July 26. 

In another post, he wrote that he thought “Facebook is thinking I am getting scammed or something” because he was not receiving messages from parents, adding, “Comment here if you live in Florida and didn’t get a response from me. I’ll reach out to you.” 

The posts sparked outrage, with many calling for his removal from CRMC and that he be reported to the Florida Board of Medicine. 

Rachel Stiles, a CRMC spokesperson, said in a statement to the The Hill, “Immediately upon learning of this physician’s actions, we began the process of removing him from providing services to our hospital patients.”

“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,” she added. 

Warden told the Tallahassee Democrat after being informed of the hospital’s decision, “I’m sorry. I’m not supposed to say anything.” 

According to Florida Department of Health records, Warden was issued his Florida medical license in February of this year. 

The incident comes as local school districts in Florida are pushing back against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) executive order banning mask mandates in schools, which he issued earlier this year under the argument that facial coverings should be optional. 

As of Wednesday, 10 Florida school districts, which include more than half of the state’s total enrollment, have announced mask mandates in defiance of the governor’s order.

Tags CBS coronavirus pandemic DeSantis federal mask mandate Florida Ron DeSantis Tallahassee

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