By AlaskaWatchman.com

Editor’s note: The following letter was penned by Alaska Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes and sent to the Alaska State Medical Board in advance of their recent Nov. 20 meeting.

Dear Alaska State Medical Board,

It has come to my attention that you are in receipt of requests to look into matters regarding physicians involved with the “Alaska Early Treatment Medical Summit” coordinated by the Alaska Covid Alliance in October 2021 as well as to issue judgment or an advisory statement about ethic code violations pertaining to physicians who disseminate certain information about COVID-19 that the requestors believe to be false and misleading.

I have heard from numerous physicians and physician assistants over the last few months who have and want to help their COVID-19 patients with early therapeutics in an outpatient setting to reduce their patients’ chances of hospitalization and death. Many wish to remain anonymous. I write on their behalf as well as on behalf of the hundreds of Alaskans who have contacted me supporting their approach, including many who attribute their successful recovery from COVID-19 to the treatment they received from them.

We need you to help us realize that vaccines are not the sole solution to this pandemic. Your voice stating that outpatient treatment has an important role, too, would be a game-changer.

These highly credentialed and respected medical doctors and PAs with whom I have spoken are committed to the health and well-being of their patients. They firmly believe the present attempt to tie their hands and restrict their ability to intervene with primary care treatments is unethical, immoral, and to the detriment of the health of their patients. Not one of these physicians has fired a patient for getting a COVID-19 vaccine nor have they discouraged a patient who desires to be vaccinated from getting a vaccine.

This is about a comprehensive approach to tackling a tricky coronavirus. We need all hands on deck. We need scientific honesty. COVID-19 is unfortunately with us for the long term, and we need a sensible pathway forward to manage it.

My hope is that as the Alaska State Medical Board, you can engage in an educational effort with our medical community and with the public. We need you, as medical leaders in our state, to help Alaskans face the reality that while the vaccines help reduce the severity of infection and lower the risk of hospitalization and death, the COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent infection and transmission and will not eradicate this coronavirus.

We need you to help us realize that vaccines are not the sole solution to this pandemic. Your voice stating that outpatient treatment has an important role, too, would be a game-changer.

Notwithstanding patient safety, let’s allow physicians to be free to practice medicine when it comes to COVID-19 just like we do for other ailments.

Help Alaska be a global leader in recognizing and forging this pathway – the only pathway that will allow us to effectively manage COVID-19 and help return us to normalcy once again.

To my knowledge, there is no other disease, condition, infection, illness, etc. that we have relegated to specialty and hospital care like we have when a person tests positive for COVID-19. The person is simply sent home without an early treatment plan, and if symptoms surface, some head for an IV hook-up for monoclonal treatment, and if symptoms surface and worsen, others head to the hospital. What if a person is diagnosed with pneumonia, would we simply send them home without some sort of therapeutic treatment and instructions? Substitute myriad of other diagnoses into this question and the answer is a resounding “no.” Why are we doing this with the diagnosis of COVID-19? It is absurd.

We have both vaccinated and unvaccinated Alaskans who contract COVID-19 and would benefit from the care and oversight of physicians in outpatient settings. We should be encouraging this, not discouraging it.

Instead of increasing the polarization over how to approach COVID-19 by dividing our physician community, I hope you conclude that the jury is still out as to the best treatments for COVID-19. We are still at an early stage and will know much more as time progresses. I also hope that you will closely adhere to Alaska Statute 08.64.326(a)(8)(A):

“. . .the board may not base a finding of professional incompetence solely on the basis that a licensee’s practice is unconventional or experimental in the absence of demonstrable physical harm to a patient[.]”

To my knowledge, none of the complaints and requests you received involve documented harm to patients.

Through all the debate and consternation and divide, I, for one, am convinced of two things.

First, we need critical thinking to be alive and well in America – to question what’s happening, to be open-minded in regard to additional solutions to reduce the occurrence and severity of

COVID-19. Secondly, we need to respect those who are brave and speak up and question and dare to challenge.

When we have easily accessible and affordable treatment solutions that are considered acceptable – in addition to the vaccines – we will be able to manage COVID-19 and normalcy will begin to return.

I will conclude by sharing that I have family members in the medical field, and have great respect for all the health care professionals who have been under tremendous stress the past two years due to COVID-19. In light of this, we especially should be ever mindful to respect the knowledge and training of our doctors.

Notwithstanding patient safety, let’s allow physicians to be free to practice medicine when it comes to COVID-19 just like we do for other ailments.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Sen. Hughes to Alaska Medical Board: Don’t undercut doctors who offer early treatment for COVID

Shelley Hughes
Shelley Hughes serves as an Alaska state senator. She is currently the Senate Majority Leader.