Truth: “Dr. McElyea has not worked at our Sallisaw location in over 2 months. NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin. This includes not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose,” a pop-up window on the Oklahoma hospital’s homepage read.
KFOR news station in Oklahoma filed a story last Thursday on how rural Oklahoma hospital ERs are supposedly being overrun with people who overdosed on ivermectin to the point that patients with gunshot wounds are having a hard time getting the care they need.
The source for their report was Dr. Jason McElyea, who according to multiple websites like USNews.com is a family doctor who works or has worked at certain points at multiple ERs in rural Oklahoma. He told KFOR that the alleged ivermectin overdosing has also created a logjam for ambulance services in the area:
Dr. McElyea said patients are packing his eastern and southeastern Oklahoma hospitals after taking ivermectin doses meant for a full-sized horse, because they believed false claims the horse de-wormer could fight COVID-19.
“The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated,” he said.
That’s something McElyea said is now backing up ambulance systems as well.
“All of their ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it,” said Dr. McElyea. “If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”
Watch McElyea’s interview with KFOR below:
A look at how KFOR framed the story (with the headline: “Patients overdosing on ivermectin backing up rural Oklahoma hospitals, ambulances”) makes it appear factual, as though it was thoroughly sourced beyond just one ER doctor’s assessment. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was quick to share the story because of course she was:
"Patients overdosing on ivermectin backing up rural Oklahoma hospitals, ambulances"
"'The scariest one I’ve heard of and seen is people coming in with vision loss,' he said."https://t.co/P909GtxBQZ
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) September 2, 2021
Because the story involves two things of interest to the media – hospitals allegedly having to turn patients away and people taking ivermectin to treat COVID-19 symptoms – it was picked up by numerous national media outlets, including The Hill, The Guardian, BBC News, and Rolling Stone:
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) September 3, 2021
Rolling Stone is far from the only media outlet to write up the story after Jason McElyea made his remarks to a local Oklahoma station.
The Hill, The Guardian and BBC are some of the others to publish stories based on the doctor’s claims. None have updated their pieces as of now pic.twitter.com/E7xMThtO0P
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 5, 2021
The big problem with the story and the fact that so many other outlets picked it up is at least one of the hospitals in question is not only denying that they’ve treated any patient for ivermectin complications much less an overdose but they also say McElyea hasn’t worked in their ER “in over two months.” As of this writing, you see the below information right when you click on the link to the hospital’s homepage:
— jimtreacher.substack.com (@jtLOL) September 4, 2021
In addition to that, the Rolling Stone article featured a stock image that was not actually of people who were being forced to wait in long lines at Oklahoma ERs because of alleged ivermectin overdoses:
And they used a stock photo from January of people waiting in line to get vaccines to illustrate a story claiming that gunshot victims can’t get treatment because the hospital is full of horse dewormer overdoses because of course they did. pic.twitter.com/ypsV7lhHe5
— Amy (@AmyA1A) September 4, 2021
I should note that the beginning of the Rolling Stone piece now features the information from NHS – Sequoyah about McElyea, but most of the other sites that ran this story have not posted any such updates.
I checked the websites and Facebook pages of three other hospitals Dr. McElyea is said to have worked for in the past (McAlester Regional Cancer Center, Integris Grove Hospital, and Memorial Hospital of Stilwell), and while they didn’t have anything on their pages similar to NHS – Sequoyah’s regarding Dr. McElyea, there was also no warning message about the dangers of people taking dosages of ivermectin meant for horses, which you would think you’d see if their ERs were being besieged with people who had overdosed.
I should also point out that in my experience, when you’re Googling for more information on a doctor, you come across various web pages with information on them that may not have been recently updated, meaning that just because sites like USNews.com list him as being an ER doctor at “multiple hospitals” doesn’t necessarily mean he’s still working for them. So it’s unclear just how many ERs he’s actually worked in since the alleged overrun of ivermectin patients supposedly started.
Further, Dr. McElyea was quoted by Tulsa World last week in a story about how some hospital ICUs are reportedly at capacity due to a surge in COVID patients. He told them about one alleged instance where a gunshot victim had to be sent elsewhere, but there was no mention of it being the result of a hospital ER filling up with ivermectin overdose cases:
Dr. Jason McElyea, a rural emergency room physician, had a gunshot victim in his facility whom for hours he was unable to transfer to a higher level of care because no one had space. One of McElyea’s colleagues had to send a severely ill COVID patient all the way to South Dakota.
“They had sat in a small hospital needing to be in an ICU for several days and that was the closest ICU that was available,” McElyea said.
I cannot stress enough how bad the “journalism” was from KFOR in their thinly-sourced report, which obviously was compounded when other news outlets including international ones picked it up and ran with it. Did no one at KFOR think to make some phone calls to any other sources that could have either confirmed or denied McElyea’s explosive claims? It doesn’t appear that happened.
Instead, a panic has been created in the state with people now believing they’ll be turned away from hospital ERs because of this story.
In fact “bad journalism” does not quite cover what KFOR did here. “Dereliction of duty” in failing to do even basic due diligence is more apropos, in my opinion.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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