Krabbenhoft needs to apologize and resign.

The president and CEO “of one of the largest health systems in the Midwest” is spreading dangerous misinformation about Covid-19 that could literally get people killed.

Sanford Health President & CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft told the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus Leader this week that, “There’s not a crisis.”

Tell that to the people dying of Covid-19, their families and the frontline healthcare providers in the hospitals he is supposed to be leading.

Sioux Falls Argus Leader headline re: Sanford CEO Covid comments
Screenshot from Sioux Falls Argus Leader online edition, 11/20/20.

Krabbenhoft also said he has recovered from Covid-19 and that, therefore, he presumes he’s immune and will be “…for at least seven months and perhaps for years to come.” That’s why he hasn’t been wearing a mask in public all the time, he said. In addition, Krabbenhoft told the newspaper, “…the worst of the pandemic will soon be in the rear-view mirror” due to the arrival of a vaccine.

These are irresponsible, and potentially lethal, statements from any leader, but when they come from the president & CEO of the health system that serves a huge swath of people in four states – Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota – it’s grounds for dismissal.

Krabbenhoft’s statements mislead people about the importance of wearing a mask, the duration of potential immunity post-infection and, based on statements from national experts, the possible delivery timeline for a vaccine for the majority of U.S. citizens. Dr. Anthony Fauci says a vaccine won’t be widely available or available to people without serious underlying medical conditions until the spring of 2021.

Worse, Krabbenhoft is undermining Sanford staff members who are battling this pandemic with everything they’ve got, working extra hours and extra shifts and watching people die from Covid-19.

Krabbenhoft has made it clear he is not a doctor himself. If he were, he’d be breaking Greek physician Hippocrates’ primary rule of caring for people – “First, do no harm.”

A friend of mine who also happens to be an administrator of a healthcare program and has spent her entire career in healthcare leadership positions had this to say:

“He should be fired. I wonder how all of the front line workers feel about his statement that wearing a mask is a symbolic gesture. Leadership Failure. Also, he demonstrates ignorance by thinking he is immune. People have been reinfected. He is not fit to lead a health care organization.”

Couldn’t agree more.

I am grateful for my Sanford physicians, nurses, technicians and other staff; I trust them with my health and life. However, statements like these from Sanford leadership undermine my trust in the health system overall.

Krabbenhoft owes the dedicated healthcare professionals at Sanford an apology, but that’s not sufficient.

Someone who denies the basics of this virus, illness and necessary preventative measures has no business running the health system entrusted with the lives of so many people in our region.

He needs to either retract his statements about Covid-19 or resign his position. That is, if the Sanford Health board doesn’t do the right thing and fire him first.

Four days after the publication of this post, the Sanford Health Board of Trustees and Krabbenhoft reportedly agreed “to part ways.”

Green outlined graphic indicating copyright 2019 Martin C. Fredricks IV

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Featured image by Joe Ahlquist, Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

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