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Washoe County Medical Society


Stop Coronavirus

A letter from Pamela E. Netuschil, M.D. to the Washoe County Medical Society.

Dear Washoe County Medical Society,

I would like to comment on our response to the COVID pandemic.

This was the title of the talk given to me at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s annual meeting that I attended as a second-year resident and was given by a gynecological oncologist from Rhode Island.  The point of his talk was that physicians are so willing to give up their power and let others tell us how medicine should be done.  We do not fight for ourselves or the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship.  We allow politicians and bureaucrats to tell us what to do.  Physicians are like sheep and just do as we are told, he said.

This has really hit home as I see what has happened with the recent COVID-19 pandemic.  Physicians allowed bureaucrats and politicians to tell us which surgeries were necessary and which ones were not.  Certain cancer surgeries could be done but a lot of them could not be done.  Even though most hospitals across our nation were quiet, we stopped biopsies, orthopedic surgeries, cancer surgeries, cancer screening tests and follow-up appointments for patients with chronic diseases. Politicians and bureaucrats even told us which medicines we could prescribe. Physicians contributed to the suffering of many people.

Physicians allowed normal, healthy people to stay at home and did not protect our most vulnerable patients:  the elderly.  We allowed the young and healthy to suffer from increased child abuse, domestic abuse, suicides, and anxiety and stress from loss of financial security.  We allowed people to have so much fear, they quit going to the emergency rooms for heart attacks and strokes.  We allowed the destruction of our patients’ businesses and livelihoods.

Physicians who questioned the “science” behind this ordeal were berated by other physicians.  What science?  The models that predicted millions of deaths were way off.  The elderly and people with hypertension, obesity and diabetes were not protected adequately.  Nursing homes were forced to take in COVID positive patients and filthy subways were kept open without any cleaning or disinfecting until massive lives were lost.  We treated every state the same regardless of numbers of infected patients.  Now we realize many states lost mostly nursing home patients when we knew from the first case in the state of Washington that nursing home patients were the most vulnerable.

Physicians allowed lay-offs of medical professionals and created financial duress for thousands of hospitals and doctor’s offices even if there were few COVID cases in those areas.  With the shut-down of regular patient care we created misery even among ourselves.

How dare physicians allow others to tell us what our patients need?  How dare we not defy those who stop us from using our own judgment to decide what medical procedures are essential for our patients?   How dare we contribute to the suffering of the young and healthy and not protect the vulnerable?   Where was organized medicine?  I agree, doctors are evil.

Pamela E. Netuschil, M.D.


Dear Dr. Netuschil,

The Board has taken considerable time to read and discuss your letter. We appreciate your opinion and sharing it openly. As a group of diverse physicians and physician specialties, we need to communicate often. We are aware that there is a subset of physicians who share your opinion. It is true that many in this community have suffered both mentally and financially with the quarantine because of the novel Coronavirus.

I would like to point out the viewpoint almost uniformly supported by the Board. First this is a novel virus. The initial data was increasingly concerning and has continued to be. It was devastating in Northern Italy but squelched in South Korea. The difference appeared to be due to quarantine and social distancing along with wearing masks and shutting things down. South Korea had the benefit of dealing with SARS so quickly reacted. This process came to the US a little late, but has probably been effective in flattening the curve. Yet, we have lost over 100,000 lives.

Reno has been more fortunate, but these measures have taken a toll.

Physicians have been at the forefront of this. Our pulmonary colleagues, anesthesiologists, and intensivists have put their lives on the line daily to intubate and care for people with possible deadly Covid virus and have sought sleep in basements and hotels away from their families due to the unknown transmission variables. This is true dedication.

Physicians at Northern Nevada, Saints and Renown donated their time to form review committees to decide which patients would be appropriate for surgery while the ORs were limiting their cases. They based their decisions on dedicated physician groups such as the American College of Surgeons.

Initially, physicians did not have the necessary PPE and still use masks for weeks on end. They did not have testing and therefore did not understand the prevalence and penetrance in the community. We say that certain areas were running out of ventilators, and yes, hypothetical models sent fear throughout communities and lead to Renown developing a 700-bed Covid unit. Many were furloughed and many sustained financial hardships, but yet we as physicians persisted and continued to take care of patients. We were essential workers in the face off a pandemic.

And yes, many patients avoided the ERs and did not seek medical attention and as we did not see the surge as expected, there was a quick response to convey a sense of safety to our patients to get back to health.

Organized medicine is not perfect, but it is a necessity. Thank you for participating and being a vital part of it. We need to hear all sides as we move forward. Yes, we need to be involved, and this takes time which as you know is precious considering our all-consuming jobs, dedication to family, and the little time we can spend on ourselves.



Jay Morgan, M.D.

WCMS President

On behalf of the WCMS Board of Directors

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