A Montana hospital went into lockdown and called the police after a woman threatened violence because a relative’s request for ivermectin treatment was denied.
Another Montana hospital’s officials accused public officials of threatening and harassing their employees for refusing to treat a politically connected Covid-19 patient with the anti-parasitic drug or hydroxychloroquine, another drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Covid.
In neighboring Idaho, a medical resident reported that a Covid patient’s relative verbally abused her and threatened physical violence because she refused to prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, “drugs that are not beneficial in the treatment of Covid-19,” she wrote.
The three conflicts, which occurred between September and November, highlight the pressure on health-care workers to provide unauthorized Covid treatments, particularly in areas of the country where vaccination rates are low, government skepticism is high, and conservative leaders have advocated for the treatments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, even before the pandemic, the health care and social assistance industry — which includes residential care facilities and child day care centers, among other services — led all U.S. industries in nonfatal workplace violence. Covid has exacerbated the situation, prompting hospital security upgrades, staff training, and calls for increased federal regulation.
In recent months, ivermectin and other unauthorized Covid treatments have become a major source of contention. Suits have been filed in Texas, Florida, Illinois, and other states over hospitals’ refusals to provide ivermectin to patients.
Ivermectin-related harassment extends beyond US borders to providers and public health officials in countries such as Australia, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, reports of threats of violence and harassment, such as those recently seen in the Northern Rocky Mountains region, are uncommon.
Ivermectin is approved for the treatment of parasites in animals, and low doses are approved for the treatment of worms, head lice, and certain skin conditions in humans. However, the FDA has not approved the drug for the treatment of Covid. Clinical trials are ongoing, according to the agency, but current data do not show that it is an effective Covid treatment, and taking higher-than-approved levels can result in overdose.
Similarly, according to the FDA, hydroxychloroquine can cause serious health problems and does not help Covid recover faster or reduce the risk of death. On Nov. 17, the Community Medical Center in Missoula, Montana, was placed on lockdown and police were called after a woman was reported to have threatened violence because of how her relative was being treated, according to police. Nobody was detained.
Megan Condra, a hospital spokesperson, confirmed on Wednesday that the patient requested ivermectin, but she said the woman was not there for Covid, though she declined to reveal the patient’s medical condition. Condra added that the hospital’s main entrance was locked to control who entered the building, but the hospital’s formal lockdown procedures were not followed.
The scare was similar to one that occurred in Idaho in September. Dr. Ashley Carvalho, who is finishing her medical residency in Boise, said that she was verbally abused and threatened with both physical violence and a lawsuit by a patient’s relative after she refused to prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.
In October, an 82-year-old woman involved in Montana Republican politics was admitted to St. Peter’s Health, Helena’s hospital, with Covid. A family friend contacted Chief Deputy Attorney General Kris Hansen, a former Republican state senator, with multiple complaints, according to a November report by a special counsel appointed by state lawmakers: Hospital officials had not delivered a power-of-attorney document left by relatives for the patient to sign, she had been denied her preferred medical treatment, she had been cut off from her family, and the family was concerned that hospital officials would prevent her from leaving. The patient passed away later.
That complaint prompted Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen to intervene, texting a lobbyist for the Montana Hospital Association who also serves on St. Peter’s board of directors. The report included an image of the exchange.