YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Yuma emergency room doctor says he was fired from Yuma Regional Medical Center (YMRC) for speaking out on social media about COVID-19 from the frontlines. But YRMC says he still works for the company they contract with.
Dr. Cleavon Gilman's Nov. 22 tweet about the lack of ICU beds went viral, even catching the attention of President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team.
"Just got to work and was notified there are no ICU beds in the state of Arizona," his post reads.
Biden's transition team tweeted a thank-you to Gilman and "all the inspiring frontline workers" a few days later, including a video of the president-elect calling the doctor.
Oprah also tweeted her support for Gilman, even offering him a vacation in true Oprah-form.
"We should be taking care of those taking care of us. Thank you [Dr. Cleavon Gilman] for the work you've done and will continue to do. You'll need a vacation once this pandemic is over - and I'll gladly send you and your immediate family anywhere you want to go. I'll be in touch."
"The big problem that we are having on the frontlines is if you say anything -- if you speak out -- your job will likely fire you," Gilman said in a TV interview. "And then, after you're treating the patients -- intubating them, seeing level ones that die -- you get to drive home past the gym that's crowded with people [and] people eating inside maskless. You know, it's just a slap in the face here.
Although Gilman said he was told that his services were no longer required, YMRC says he still has a job and is on the schedule to work this weekend. In a statement, YRMC called the situation a "misunderstanding."
Statement from YRMC
"It's clear there has been a misunderstanding. Dr. Cleavon Gilman, who is employed by EmCare/Envision — a national company that contracts with YRMC, is scheduled to work at YRMC this weekend.
"There is no question our nation’s COVID situation is serious. While he is not speaking on behalf of YRMC, we respect Dr. Gilman's right to share his personal perspective on the pandemic. This is a small community, and YRMC takes its responsibility to protect our patients' private medical information very seriously.
"This is an 'all hands on deck' moment, in our emergency department and thousands of others across the country. We need good caregivers like Dr. Gilman here, serving patients at the bedside and providing the best care possible, and we are grateful for all of those who continue to do that on the frontline every day."
What Gilman wants
"We need a concerted, organized effort to battle this virus," Gilman said. "This is ridiculous."
First, "we need a mask mandate across the whole state," he said. "That's just kind of the basic (necessity) during a pandemic -- you should have a mask mandate."
Gilman also wants a four-week stay-at-home order -- including government pay for nonessential workers so they don't have to worry about finances during that time.
Without a temporary shutdown, "the virus will implement its own shutdown," he said.