Doctor fired after allegedly selling children mask exemption letters for $50 online

·3 min read
A doctor was let go by the medical facility that he worked at after it was discovered he was charging people $50 for mask exemption letters  (REUTERS)
A doctor was let go by the medical facility that he worked at after it was discovered he was charging people $50 for mask exemption letters (REUTERS)

A doctor in Florida has been fired after it was discovered he was offering parents mask exemption letters for $50, according to reports.

Dr Brian Warden reportedly told parents to contact him on Facebook for a letter following the of the introduction of stricter mask rules in schools in Leon County. After the message was uncovered, he was relieved of his position, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“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. Immediately upon learning of this physician's actions, we began the process of removing him from providing services to our hospital patients,” said Rachel Stiles, a spokesperson for Capital Regional Medical Center, where Dr Warden worked.

According to Ms Stiles, the move was confirmed at their board of trustees meeting by the facility’s CEO Alan Keese on 24 August.

One of the posts was shared on Twitter by Ron Filipkowski, who shared a screenshot with the caption, “Dr Brian Warden was just removed from his position at Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee, FL for selling medical mask “opt-out” letters on social media for $50. This is one of his posts.”

Dr Warden’s alleged offer read, “PARENTS IN LEON COUNTY FLORIDA: Private message me if you need a medical exemption letter for your child” in the Facebook group Parents Against Masks.

According to public records, Dr Warden had created a limited liability company named Dove Field Health in July. He graduated from Temple University School of Medicine in 2018 and did a residency for three years in Philadelphia at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. He declined to comment to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Reports of the alleged letter writing scheme prompted a wave of outrage that led to calls for Dr Warden to be sacked from his position and reported to the state’s medical board.

The superintendent of Leon County said on 22 August that all children, from kindergarten to the eight grade, would be mandated to wear masks in the classroom, unless they had a medical exemption from a doctor. The board voted 3 to 2 for the mask requirement and became one of 10 schools in Florida to bring in similar rules as the Delta variant surges across the state. A student at a Leon County school, Canopy Oaks Elementary School, died from Covid-19 complications last weekend.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has suggested that these 10 districts may face fines for going against state law about masks. In July, he issued an Executive Order “to protect parents’ freedom to choose whether their children wear masks.”

“We can confirm that any district found to be in violation of the state law would be subject to having funds withheld in an amount equal to the salaries of the superintendent and school board members. Possible measures beyond that are still under discussion,” he said a press conference on 25 August.