SIOUX FALLS, SD – The president and CEO of one of the largest health systems in the country says he will not wear a mask at work because he has recovered from COVID-19 and this would only be a “symbolic gesture” because he considers himself immune to the virus.
Kelby Crabenhoft of South Dakota-based Sanford Health outlined his thoughts on the existence of COVID-19 and why it would not wear a mask in an email sent to health workers late Wednesday afternoon and received from a number of Forum News Service sources.
Crabenhoft said he was still experiencing a “backward cough and fatigue,” but told staff he had returned to the office without a mask.
“For me, wearing a mask opposes the efficacy and purpose of a mask and sends a false message that I am susceptible to infection or could transmit it,” he said. “I have no interest in using masks as a symbolic gesture when I believe that my actions in support of our family leave no doubt about my support for all 50,000 of you. My team and I have a duty to express the truth, the facts and the reality, not to feed the opposite. “
Krabbenhoft’s 1000-word email provides a unique window to the thinking of the leader of the major health system, which in particular has not joined rival company Avera Health in support of the public mascara in Sioux Falls, his hometown, even as a local and throughout COVID-19 hospitalizations increased.
Sanford Health employs about 48,000 and has large medical centers and more than 200 clinics in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Krabbenhoft, who is not a doctor, based his defense on his decision not to wear a mask on his opinion that he had developed immunity to COVID-19.
“The information, the science, the truth, the advice and the growing evidence are that I have been immunized for at least seven months and maybe years to come, similar to chickenpox, measles, etc.,” he wrote, without citing sources for his claim.
However, current science is far less clear that Krabbenhoft was immunized for seven months, much less years. In South Dakota alone, health officials announced late last month that they were investigating 28 possible cases of COVID-19 reinfection in people who had previously tested positive at least 90 days earlier.
Public health officials then said they were still waiting for large-scale studies to find out if and for how long the COVID-19 survivor retained antibodies to the point that they were immune to reinfection.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently says that instead of a full understanding of reinfection, those who have undergone COVID-19 should join those who have not taken steps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, such as wear masks in public places, social distancing and hand hygiene.
“The duration and persistence of immunity against SARS-CoV-2 remains under investigation,” the CDC said, using the technical term for the virus that causes COVID-19, in a summary updated on October 19. “Based on what we know from other related human coronaviruses, humans appear to be susceptible to reinfection about 90 days after the onset of the infection. “
But Crabenhoft told staff about his frustrations with the camouflage conversation.
“Masks are a symbolic issue that frankly disappoints me,” he wrote, arguing that using masks “over and over, over and over again” is absurd.
“On the other hand, for people who are not infected with the virus and can acquire it and then spread it. … It is important for them to know that the masks are just intelligent to use and in their best interest, “he wrote, emphasizing the last three words in his email.
Krabbenhoft also noted that some Sanford workers will soon be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as government officials said they would first go to frontline health workers working with viral patients.
Then those who receive the vaccine “will be responsible for demonstrating confidence, professional balance and your personal grasp, which communicates that we have overcome fear, illness and misunderstanding in order to live and re-engage in our communities,” Krabbenhoft writes.
Full text of Sanford Health President and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, November 18, email to staff:
Dear Sanford family,
I had a virus (COVID-19).
I caught the virus, felt the insecurity that accompanied the word “positive”, endured the symptoms, followed the quarantine and all protocols, experienced a backward cough and fatigue … but I’m back in my office, working on Sanford’s priorities and mostly focusing to make sure that we meet the expectations of everyone who trusts us with their care, and we do our best to support and thank you for creating the most important standard for calm, professional, consistently compassionate and consistent care for your colleagues from the Sanford family and all those who rely on you for factual, reliable and generally accepted information in today’s chaotic times.
I had a virus.
And what does it mean? Every Monday I gather the best leadership in this part of our nation, around me for our weekly meeting. I am informed about the state of Sanford and this virus on a daily basis, and 90% of other patients seek care for all their non-virus concerns. But every Monday I ask what we know about the virus. From the appropriate use of masks, to the development and distribution of vaccines, to visiting policies, to staff affected by the virus, and research on immunity and safety … and more.
For 37 weeks, top infectious disease physicians, immunologists, the president of Sanford Research, the chief medical officer of Sanford, the president of Sanford’s Physician Group, the chief operating officer of Sanford, and the chief nurses of Sanford answered the same questions. . ask every week to know if science, truth, facts, and common sense have changed.
In 37 weeks, some things have changed:
Do we have enough fans (remember that?)?
Initially, the answer was no, but now we have more idle than we will probably ever use.
Will we lose a significant number of quarantine staff?
At first we were afraid of this, but now we have solutions and I knew that even when the volumes are low, it would be foolish to take them out and reduce them. So I took the “other direction” and strengthened job security, confidence, financial support, and, like any good family, for those who were unhappy at home. You experience the stress of this like all of us, but you are leaders in these times, trained and aware of it, and you are responding to your calling and our reputation. You have earned this incredible personal reputation, it allows you to keep it and strengthen it.
Many other things have changed, the most important thing is that most of you have not been infected with the virus and will be the first to receive the vaccine in just a few weeks, and then will be responsible for demonstrating confidence, professional balance. and our personal cunning reports that we have overcome fear, illness, and misunderstanding in order to live and re-engage in our communities.
Masks are a symbolic question that frankly disappoints me. Many of you know that I am an old cleaning technician from my youth. For 40 years I have known extremely well the purpose of the masks in the infection control and the security of the operating room in terms of the management of infectious protocols there and on the floors in infectious and dangerous infectious situations. Behavior “over and over, over and over again” when using masks by the population violates any idea of serious infection management that I was trained to adhere to, so some of that is absurd. On the other hand, for people who are not infected with the virus and can acquire it and then spread it …. It is important for them to know that the masks are just intelligent to use and in their interest.
Most importantly, do we have everything and everyone we need to take care of those who come to us for care?
The answer is that it was and is, yes.
I had a virus.
What does this mean for me and others who have had it like me?
The information, science, truth, advice, and growing evidence are that I have been immunized for at least seven months, and perhaps for years to come, similar to chickenpox, measles, and more. For me, wearing a mask opposes the effectiveness and purpose of a mask and sends a false message that I am susceptible to infection or could transmit it. I have no interest in using masks as a symbolic gesture when I believe that my actions in support of our family leave no doubt about my support for all 50,000 of you. My team and I have a duty to express the truth and the facts and the reality, not to feed the opposite.
These are serious problems, and they require us to humbly acknowledge that standing up and honoring the truth and the advice we know about the virus is lonely, unpopular, or criticized. And without that, we must stand at the high level of science, facts and truth. These are serious issues. I know that a large number of you will accept this note as intended, that it reflects the best information and advice we have in Sanford and beyond. Please, we are significantly united in this situation. There is always room for those who might see it differently, and, as always, I would look forward to a respectful and reasoned opportunity to discuss concerns, both with myself and with someone on my executive team whom you know well.
I am optimistic about our future, we are extremely strong and we are experiencing the most significant performance in our history. From the amount of daily care we give to people in 26 states, to the contribution we make to research and solutions, to our business affairs … we are an amazing organization. However, my optimism is kept quiet because of those who are emotionally hurt by this virus, because we lost family members to this virus, and that this virus seems to have found a way to separate so many people from a common struggle that seems to have a remarkably positive outcome.
I had a virus. The vaccine is being prepared for distribution. As human beings, we have suffered, but we have won.
Please travel safely, we need you.
At your disposal,