Kelby Krabbenhoft is the President and CEO of Sanford Health, a large healthcare system based in South Dakota. He has also indicated that he will not be wearing a face mask.
Yes, you heard that correctly. According to Samara Said reporting for CNN, Krabbenhoft recently wrote in an email that he has already recovered from a Covid-19 coronavirus infection, believes that he is now immune to the virus, and now doesn’t want to wear a face mask. “For me to wear a mask defies the efficacy and purpose of a mask and sends an untruthful message that I am susceptible to infection or could transmit it,” Krabbenhoft indicated. “I have no interest in using masks as a symbolic gesture.”
Bailey Hurley, a crime and safety reporter for Valley News Live tweeted out what was reportedly the content of the Krabbenhort email:
That’s not all. As Joe Sneve reported for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Krabbenhoft said about the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, “At this point, we feel we’ve got this under control. There’s not a crisis.”
Sneve also wrote that on Friday, Sanford Health executive vice president Micah Aberson issued the following statement in response to what Krabbenhoft had written: “Kelby Krabbenhoft’s email was based on his own experience with COVID-19 and his personal opinions about the virus. They do not reflect the views of our health system as a whole. Sanford Health’s position is the same as it has always been – consistently wearing masks, avoiding crowds and staying home if you’re sick are critical to preventing the spread of the virus. It is important to follow CDC guidelines. We continue to be incredibly grateful to our frontline workers who are stepping up every day to take care of our patients.”
So, in other words, the views of the CEO of the health system do reflect the views of the health system when it comes to an important healthcare-related matter? Does that mean the values of the leader and the organization are not aligned? Not exactly the kind of stuff they teach in Management 101.
Sanford Health tweeted out the following as well:
So Sanford Health is telling others to do what its CEO is not going to do. Is this a bit like the owner of a pizza shop saying that he or she is not really into dough, cheese, and tomato sauce?
Make no mask-take about it. The CEO of a large healthcare system that includes 46 medical centers, 210 clinic locations, 208 senior living communities, and 158 skilled nursing and rehab facilities, based on the Sanford Health website, apparently does not want to wear a face covering while the Covid-19 coronavirus is surging throughout the U.S. The ultimate head of the Health Plan that covers around 210,000 lives seems to be not following the guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts. That’s right, the leader of an organization that has 1,521 physicians, 1,112 advanced practice providers and 8,502 registered nurses doesn’t appear to be taking the simple step of covering his nose and mouth. Is this the type of thing that you want to hear after working an overnight 12-hour shift in the Emergency Room?
Some folks on social media were not too happy with the Krabbenhoft email. For example:
So where did Krabbenhort get that “I am immune for seven months and perhaps for years to come, similar to that of chicken pox, measles, etc.?” Well, maybe he was referring to a study recently published in the scientific journal Immunity. The study tested serum samples from 5,882 volunteers from Pima County, Arizona, and found that neutralizing antibodies and those against the SARS-CoV2 spike protein seemed to persist in the serum for at least five to seven months. However, if Krabbenhort had read this publication and the rest of the available scientific literature carefully he would have realized that this is far from a definitive study. Never make a conclusion based on one such study, even if it says what you want to hear, like avocado toast is delicious. Instead, since natural immunity is a complex process, see what the scientific literature as a whole is saying. Doing so will show that as a whole there are still a lot of holes in our knowledge. It is still unclear how exactly immunity against the SARS-CoV2 works after natural infection or how long such immunity may last. There have been reported cases of people getting re-infected with the virus, although it has yet to be determined how common this may be.
This is why British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently under quarantine even though he already had a bout with Covid-19 in April that landed him in a hospital intensive care unity (ICU). This is why Johnson has continued to wear a face mask since he recovered from Covid-19.
Comparing the Covid-19 coronavirus to the chicken pox or measles is like comparing a zebra to a llama. Or One Direction to Los Angeles Lakers. They are just not the same things. If you were to show up to a basketball game with Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and a llama, you may not get the same result as showing up with JaVale McGee, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Danny Green, and Avery Bradley.
As for the “we feel we’ve got this under control” and “there’s not a crisis” statements, Krabbenhort may want to check the number of new cases occurring each day in South Dakota and the South Dakota government website. The COVID-19 in South Dakota web page says WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS in ALL CAPS. That’s not exactly the type of thing that you write when there isn’t a crisis. If someone were to ask you how the cake baking is going and you were to respond, “WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS,” that person might be a little suspicious about what’s happening to the cake. The website makes the following statement as well: “With the COVID-19 situation changing rapidly, it’s hard to predict what tomorrow may bring. With the help of healthcare providers, schools, leaders, businesses and communities across the state we are taking proactive steps to reduce the spread of the virus.” It is a bit difficult to reconcile “we’ve got this under control” and “it’s hard to predict what tomorrow may bring.”
Plus, who exactly did Krabbenhort mean by “we?” Is he on the front lines? Is he taking care of patients? His bio reveals no evidence of a scientific or medical background. It does list a bunch of health system executive positions including being named at age 38, the president and CEO of Sioux Valley Health System, which back in 1996 employed 6,339 people and operated 18 hospitals, 30 clinics and nine long-term care facilities. He was captain of the Concordia College basketball team, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business and hospital administration. So presumably he will understand that many llamas aren’t great at basketball.
Here is Krabbenhoft wearing a sweater with a very large collar and describing the “company” that he runs:
Krabbenhort is leading a health care system that is supposed to ultimately do what’s best for patients. Wearing a face mask is not that much of a sacrifice no matter how important you think looks may be. The health system itself has asked people in the community to wear face masks even though its CEO is apparently not doing so. On the face of things, how does that really look?