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Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City has locked down its ICU and upped security amid social media attacks against its healthcare workers.
In a letter to employees sent Monday, Mercy leaders told staff “you deserve to know what is going on. We are committed to transparency and sharing as many details as possible.”
The letter explains actions taken after “social media attacks against our hospital and our co-workers from a local organization”.
Those actions include a full lockdown of the hospital’s ICU “until further notice”. The hospital will also ensure a “24/7” security presence at the emergency room entrance.
The hospital encourages its staff to be vigilant and report concerns or suspicious activity to authorities.
“There is truly nothing more important to us than your safety,” the letter reads.
Fringe COVID conspiracy groups attack healthcare workers on social media
The group launching many of these attacks against Mercy hospital and its staff is “The Ekklesia Oklahoma”. In a slew of online posts, Ekklesia alleges hospital staff are choosing not to provide proper care to COVID patients. They call Mercy’s doctors “complicit in mass murder” and accuse them of only doing “what is financially profitable”.
Ekklesia’s primary demand is that the hospital use a drug called Budesonide as a primary treatment for COVID-19 patients.
Budenoside’s primary use is treating inflammatory issues like Chron’s disease. In December, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said the drug should no longer be used in regular COVID treatment after studies concluded no significant positive affect on patient outcomes.
Still, Ekklesia’s founder, Daniel Navejas, has organized multiple protests at the hospital to demand the treatment.
Group’s founder calls hospital staff “murderers” for following medical protocol
Navejas identifies himself on Twitter as the Oklahoma GOP Chair for Congressional District 3. He has spoken at several events for the state party and US Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer. In posts on his social media, he compares hospital workers to Nazis and calls Mercy hospital an “evil Marxist control death camp”.
During a Facebook LIVE video on February 8th, Navejas claimed the hospital is “willing to kill people… for a dollar bill”.
Throughout the attacks on the hospital and its staff, Ekklesia has begun asking for donations. The group says it needs to raise $20,000 in order to hire a lawyer for the family of a man who recently died at Mercy hospital from COVID-19.
Navejas himself has also directly implied that the doctors and healthcare workers at Mercy are murderers.
In a Facebook post on February 11th, Navejas said “I will be filing charges of murder against this doctor, the hospital, and the staff.”
Navejas, however, is not a district attorney and has no legal authority to file murder charges.
In a post Tuesday following the release of the letter, Navejas said neither he nor his organization condone violence.
“Anyone who exemplifies such actions do not represent EkkOk, myself or most importantly the King Jesus Christ,” Navejas wrote.
The post then goes on to call the letter a “scare tactic” before once again advocating for murder charges against hospital staff.
Exhausted healthcare workers continue fighting to save lives amid online attacks
The attacks come as healthcare heroes across the state continue fighting to save lives two years into the pandemic. Despite widespread support at the start of the pandemic, healthcare workers are feeling burned out, exhausted and defeated.
In its letter to employees, Mercy said “it’s important that you know every one of the claims made against our hospital and co-workers are categorically untrue.”
“You are all incredible, devoted caregivers who respond to a calling to dedicate your lives to healing the sick. You have endured enough during the past two years. We will not stand by and allow you to be verbally attacked.”
While the letter did not specifically mention names, Mercy said it is “pursuing a restraining order and additional legal action against this group”.