Sunday, January 23, 2022

How I Was Harassed By My Employer After Leaving My First Of Three ICU Jobs in the Pandemic


Guest Post by Pierre Kory

After I very publicly testified in the U.S Senate, I received a daily barrage of calls from my boss trying to prevent me talking to the press. A powerful letter from my kickass lawyer ended them.

In a prior post, I detailed all the incidents leading up to my resignation from my positions as the Medical Director of the Trauma and Life Support Center and the Critical Care Service Chief at the University of Wisconsin during the early COVID era of Spring 2020.

After I was granted a leave prior to my full resignation, I left the University of Wisconsin to run my old ICU at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, during the latter half of that insane first surge of patients that overwhelmed all of New York City’s health systems. While there, as I also covered in a prior post, I was asked by the then Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Senator Ron Johnson, to testify about possible treatments of COVID. He, unfortunately like so few others, was rightly and deeply concerned about how doctors were failing at identifying and employing both early phase and late phase treatments while so many patients were dying. From my memory of the first conversation I had with him, he told me that the underlying reason why he was trying to bring attention to the issue, is that he “wanted the doctors to take their $%! gloves off” (I actually don’t think he swore, but I remember that he said it so powerfully, he certainly may have).

Although my testimony in that hearing did not reach as many ears as my later and more widely disseminated testimony (one clip of the testimony on youtube got almost 9 million views before being taken down by Big Pharma-Media) where I called attention to the critical need for ivermectin in early disease, the first one certainly got the attention of the University of Wisconsin. And they were NOT happy. Even though I resigned, my resignation was dated for June 30th. I still held my academic title of an Associate Professor of Medicine (on the brink of becoming a Full Professor when I resigned).

My boss was livid, his boss was livid (remember from my prior post, she was the Chair of Medicine whose scientific misconduct of covertly pressuring Professors under her employ to remove IV Vitamin C from the University of Wisconsin’s COVID treatment protocol led to my resignation) and her boss (the Vitamin C hating Psychiatrist Dean of the Medical School) was livid.

Why were they livid? Because, an Associate Professor of the Medical School spoke publicly. Without telling them first. Without asking for permission first. Without alerting their press office first. Whoa. And with scientific opinions that ran counter to not only the august COVID Therapeutics Committee of the University of Wisconsin but also the NIH, FDA, and all other national and international health care societies at the time. The First Amendment’s a bitch.

Note that I wrote above.. at the time, because about 8 weeks after that testimony, the use of corticosteroids became the standard of care worldwide for hospitalized COVID patients after a large study in the UK showed that use of corticosteroids led to dramatic reductions in mortality. However, in those first days after my testimony, (which I had delivered remotely from my tiny “emergency volunteer” hotel room paid for by Mount Sinai), what I had testified was.. quite provocative. And everywhere that the testimony was mentioned, it was also mentioned that I was an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Lets get back to the First Amendment, you know, the one against prohibition of free speech. Fun fact; the University of Wisconsin has long held itself as one of the fiercest protectors of their faculty’s ability to speak their opinions freely and publicly. So why, at the end of each almost indescribably and horrifically difficult day in Beth Israel’s main COVID ICU, was I getting a call from my former boss? In each call he hectored me that I needed to alert the University’s media relations office before I spoke to any more press while also telling me that my opinions were likely dangerous. The reason why I personally was getting harassed in this way was because, as one media relations employee at the University of Wisconsin had “discreetly” told me during an interaction from months prior, that “although the Chancellor of the University fully supports a faculty’s ability to speak their opinions freely.. the Dean of the University’s School of Medicine has a different opinion” and apparently gets angry when he is not told of a faculty members interaction with the press before it happens. So, lets just say, I was not surprised by their anger as I had known this when I made the decision to not tell them prior to delivering U.S Senate testimony.

Although not surprised, I quickly became increasingly annoyed at these calls, and then I just got so pissed off, I went out and hired the best civil rights and employment lawyer in the State of Wisconsin, Attorney Lester Pines.

His letter to them was an absolute tour-de-force. I loved it so much, I went out and got it framed. It hangs in my office today. It also got the phone calls to stop immediately. Enjoy the letter, you might learn something about what academic freedoms are supposed to look like.

May 19, 2020

Re:     Dr. Pierre D. Kory

Dear Dean Golden and Dr. Schnapp:

I represent Dr. Pierre Kory. I have reviewed the multiple email correspondences that he has received regarding public statements and public appearances about the treatment of Covid-19 patients that Dr. Kory has made and will make. 

Dr. Kory, while on his own personal time, is free to make any public statements or express any opinions he desires about the proper way to treat patients who are critically ill with Covid-19, or on any other medical matter. When Dr. Kory makes such statements or provides such opinions, he is not speaking on behalf of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health (“SMPH”). Nor is he speaking on behalf of UW Health.  He has not at any time suggested that he is.

The May 18, 2020 letter told Dr. Kory that before making public statements or public appearances he is “required to inform and work directly with Connie Schulze, Director of Governmental Communications for SMPH and UW Health” and that he is expected to also “inform Dr. Lynn Schnapp, department chair and Allison Golden, the Office of the Dean.” There is absolutely no requirement that a faculty or academic staff member at the University of Wisconsin, including the SMPH, or on the staff of UW Health must work with the Director of Governmental Communications or anyone else before testifying before Congress, publicly appearing before any other public organization or agency, or making a public statement. Nor is there any requirement to inform either a department chair or the Dean. 

Not only is Dr. Kory free on his own time to publicly share his knowledge and opinions, he is obliged to do so. As a faculty member of the SMPH and the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Kory is expected to ensure that his medical knowledge is shared beyond the boundaries of the campus. Neither the SMPH nor UW Health has the right to prohibit Dr. Kory from doing so, regulate what he may say, or where he may say it. 

As a public employee, Dr. Kory’s rights are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. When he is speaking or writing on matters of public concern and doing so on his own time, he may speak or write without interference from or control by his employer. He is also free to identify himself by his medical and academic credentials and will continue to do so. 

Calling and emailing Dr. Kory repeatedly to express displeasure for his public expression of expert opinions, baselessly accusing him of trying to represent his opinions as those of the SMPH, and then claiming he is required to inform and work directly with University representatives prior to speaking publicly, are attempts to intimidate and harass Dr. Kory and restrict his free speech rights. 

Multiple actions taken by Drs. Schnapp and Dean Golden have been unfounded, political attacks on Dr. Kory’s credibility and expertise. I suggest that all of you refrain from any further such behavior. I strongly urge both the SMPH and UW Health to refrain from interfering with Dr. Kory’s right to provide information to the public during this time of urgent need for the best clinical care possible for Covid-19 patients. 

Dr. Kory is a highly respected clinician who has been hard at work on the high-risk front lines of the COVID pandemic. It is unconscionable that he be forced to endure repeated intrusions during his work and advocacy. While there may be those who disagree with his approach to treatment, they should pay attention to the scientific evidence on which it is based rather than try to suppress his public discussions about it.

Very truly yours,

Lester A. Pines


Lester A. Pines