Coronavirus: No vaccine? Miami physician will refuse in-person visits

MIAMI — A South Florida doctor said she will no longer treat patients in person if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19, citing safety reasons to herself, her patients and staff members.

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Dr. Linda Marracini, who has been a primary care doctor specializing in family medicine since 1982, wrote a letter and emailed her patients on Aug. 2r4, saying that her office will no longer continue services for patients who have not been vaccinated by Sept. 15, WTVJ reported.

“We will no longer subject our patients and staff to unnecessary risk,” the letter stated, according to the television station.

Marracini also posted a note outside her office door in South Miami, stating she will end the doctor-patient relationship, the Miami Herald reported. She told the newspaper that patients who are unable to find a new doctor before the deadline will receive teleconference consultations.

“I feel if I can’t have a good doctor-patient relationship, I’m not going to be comfortable taking care of those patients and they should find someone who’s a better fit for them,” Marraccini told the newspaper last week.

Marraccini said her decision was based on science, not politics.

“I understand that people are free to choose, but to me, it’s a problem when it affects other people,” Marraccini told WTVJ.

While new COVID-19 infections have dropped by 18% in Florida, the state still reports a daily average of 17,570 cases, The Washington Post reported.

Marraccini’s decision may appear harsh, but she is not violating any medical ethics, Kenneth Goodman, founder and director of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy, told the Herald.

“Doctors have duties to their patients, all of them, not just to the one that’s gaming the system,” Goodman told the newspaper. “You don’t expose your patients to a potentially deadly disease.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week that the state will begin imposing $5,000 fines beginning Sept. 16 on businesses, schools and government agencies that require proof of vaccination, the Post reported.

DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, told the newspaper that part of the statute exempts health care professionals like Marraccini from possible fines, the newspaper reported.

“Although it is a type of discrimination we don’t endorse or agree with, she is not breaking that law,” Pushaw told the Post.

Pushaw’s comments were echoed by the Florida Department of Health, as officials said health care providers are exempt, the Herald reported.

Marraccini’s letter came weeks after Jason Valentine, a physician in Mobile, Alabama, told patients he would not treat them if they were unvaccinated, the Post reported. Valentine said there were “no conspiracy theories, no excuses” stopping anyone from being vaccinated.

“I told them COVID is a miserable way to die and I can’t watch them die like that,” Valentine wrote in a Facebook post.

Marraccini told the Herald she is not denying life-saving treatment to anyone or abandoning patients with life-threatening conditions that only she can manage.

“It is not to punish people,” Marraccini told the newspaper. “Honestly, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people. I’ve had people who are teachers that are going to be teaching kids who are not vaccinated and they (the teachers) are not vaccinated. That’s not great for our community. I have a big problem with it.

“Some of these people are very high risk themselves. They can’t afford to get sick. I’ve had patients die because they were afraid to go to the hospital.”

The emergence of the delta variant resulted in a tough decision, Marraccini told WTVJ.

“When it comes to the safety of others, when it comes to the fact that it’s a global health problem and community health problem, at this point, I really say that this is where it draws the line in the sand for me,” Marraccini told the television station.

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