Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) administration has worked this week to address the claims in a letter written by Dr. Todd Woollen, who had been employed by the hospital.
Woollen saw his last patients at the hospital on Friday and resigned on Monday, according to CCMH President and CEO Erin Muck.
Brad Bonner, CCMH executive director of human resources and inside legal counsel, said that the resignation letter was part of Woollen’s confidential personnel file and was not subject to an open records request.
Bonner noted that if Woollen had been fired, that document would be subject to an open records request – but no such document exists.
In his three-page letter, which was widely distributed on social media, Woollen recommended that the community prepare for a severe outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has infected tens of thousands and killed about 2,000 – primarily in China, Singapore and Japan.
Woollen said children should not go to schools or daycare facilities and that people should not go to church or shake hands.
Muck told the Bulletin and Review that she wouldn’t comment on the letter.
“That is his document and he needs to be the one to speak to that,” she said.
The Bulletin and Review has been unable to contact Woollen, but would welcome his comments.
Muck said CCMH defers to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) concerning issues such the COVID-19.
“That is our main resource and it’s the main resource for all the hospitals in Iowa,” she said. “They get a lot of their information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). That’s who we will always defer to because it is a trusted resource.”
She pointed out that the doctors and scientists who work at those organizations have families that they want to keep safe.
“It’s all they live and breathe to do and that is their main job,” Muck said.
The IDPH website is updated with new information about COVID-19 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she said.
“It tells you how many people are under surveillance, how many people have been tested and how many people are positive and how many people are negative,” Muck said.
As of Tuesday, 27 people in Iowa were under surveillance and two have been tested for COVID-19; both were negative.
“There have been no cases in Iowa,” Muck said.
Scaring people about the virus is not productive, she said.
All hospitals in Iowa would be notified if a positive case were confirmed.
“They do a great job of keeping us up to date,” she said.
Muck said that she had been told by CCMH staff members that Woollen had not distributed his letter to patients while they were at the hospital.
He had distributed the letter to staff members, she said.
She said Woollen is a good doctor and she would be open to talking to him about returning to CCMH in the future.
This post has been updated with additional information about Woollen's resignation letter.