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By Tim Hunt

The fallout from speaking out

Uploaded: Jan 7, 2021

When Dr. Michael Deboisblanc joined with two fellow physicians to write a letter to the Contra Costa County Director of Public Health, he did so as a private citizen.

It was not connected to his job as head of the trauma center at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek and did not mention Muir or use Muir letterhead.

Nonetheless, instead of responding to Deboisblanc and his colleagues, the doctor said that the county health officials complained to John Muir. As a result, the hospital eliminated his contract as director of the trauma center—the only one in the county—after he had served in that position for 13 years.

Deboisblanc and I spoke Monday after he responded to my earlier inquiries to his office via email and a phone call. When I reported last week that one of his office reps was blunt when saying no to an interview request, he pointed out that he was home sleeping after doing a 24-hour shift in the trauma center. And, they had been dealing with plenty of media attention after his situation made both Bay Area TV news and Fox nationally.

The father of four is concerned about the devastating impact the lockdowns are having on students, small business owners such as barbers and stylists to say nothing of restaurants. By shutting down the personal services, he suspects that many people simply shifted their informal operations to their garages. His youngest son is in high school and missing out on anything extracurricular such as water polo that he’s played for years.

Deboisblanc points out that health officials said they were following state guidelines and then opted to lockdown before state guidelines required it. They said that was to get ahead of the spread of the virus, but it continued a policy that has simply failed to stop the spread. Compare California’s numbers, with its rigid lockdowns, with Florida where the economy has remained open—albeit with limits—and attention has been focused on sheltering those are most risk such as nursing home patients and people with underlying conditions.

“My main point is that everything you do has potential benefit and potential negative impact—I don’t think they (county public health officials) are adequately considering the downsides to some of these actions they’re taking. No balanced approach. No admission by the county that these things may be having negative effects,” he said.

He went on to mention a suicide last week by a Walnut Creek high school student as well as others in the area high schools.

When asked what he would do differently he cited The Great Barrington Declaration that argues health officials should take the approach like what Florida is doing as opposed to the lockdown in California.

“Take actions that are focused on those most affected, not to those least affected by this virus—young teenagers, 25- and 30-year olds,” he said. “Lot of this based on fear of this disease. Now as vaccine comes out there is a new strain that the media is hyping as 10 times more contagious or dangerous. The way it (the virus) survives is self-selecting more contagious strains. It’s not going away and will be in our community for a long time. The question is how much we want to destroy our lifestyle to accommodate the virus.”

He believes it’s time for people to get on with their lives instead of cowering in fear. It’s notable that he hasn’t heard from any elected officials, but he said he’s received lots of support from the public at large.

While he’s no longer in charge of the Muir trauma center, he continues to do shifts there as well as serve his patients in his private surgery practice. He’s been at the trauma center for 20 years and directed it for 13 years. He served in the US Army Reserve before being honorably discharged after tours in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.