Doctor Who Criticized Trump's Hospital COVID 'Joyride' Regrets 'Nothing' After Leaving Position
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center doctor who publicly criticized President Donald Trump for taking a “joyride” around the hospital while infected with the novel coronavirus in October, says he has worked his final shift at the hospital.
“I stand by my words, and I regret nothing,” Dr. James Phillips tweeted Sunday, announcing his departure from the Bethesda, Maryland-based medical center.
“I will miss the patients and my military and civilian coworkers — they have been overwhelmingly supportive,” the physician wrote. “I’m honored to have worked there and I look forward to new opportunities.”
CBS News reported earlier this month that Phillips was set to be removed from the hospital’s rotation come January.
Phillips, who is still the chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University, had worked at Walter Reed as a contractor, a spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement on Tuesday.
The Walter Reed representative said, "Dr. Phillips worked as a contract employee at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which provides requirements for contract employees to the contract agency."
"The contract agency then works together with contract employees to determine individual schedules,” the representative's statement continued. “There was no decision made by anyone at [Walter Reed National Military Medical Center] to remove Dr. Phillips from the schedule."
Phillips, who has also appeared as a medical analyst on CNN, was the lone Walter Reed physician to publicly admonish Trump’s photo-op in October.
Trump, 74, was hospitalized for four days with COVID-19 and reportedly became "bored" by the end of his stay, according to The Washington Post, resulting in the brief car ride around the medical facility.
Health officials and Secret Service agents were among those to criticize the president’s decision to hop in the SUV with his security agents while carrying the highly contagious virus. Accompanied by agents in personal protective equipment, Trump wore a mask and waved to supporters camped outside as he was driven around the hospital.
A White House spokesperson told PEOPLE at the time that "appropriate precautions were taken" and the trip had been cleared by the hospital's medical staff.
But others saw the president's lap around the hospital as an unnecessary safety risk.
“He’s not even pretending to care now,” one Secret Service agent told the Post at the time.
Phillips had tweeted — and then deleted — his own criticism, saying Trump's move was “insanity.”
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” Phillips tweeted then. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater.”
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