Doctor ousted from Florida children’s health board over vaccine views
Jimmy Patronis gets a nice boost in his bid for re-election. Image via CFO's Office.

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Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis did not agree with Dr. Lisa Gwynn and removed her from the Florida Healthy Kids Board.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is pushing out a pediatrician from a board in charge of running the state’s Healthy Kids program because of her viewpoints on vaccines for children under 5.

Patronis’ office notified Dr. Lisa Gwynn, who is also serving as the president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in an email sent on Wednesday.

The brief email did not go into great detail, but said that Patronis — a Republican running for re-election this year — was removing Gwynn from the Florida Healthy Kids Board because she had made “some very political statements that do not reflect the CFO’s point of view, even going so far as to as to say that the state is ‘obstruct(ing)’ access to vaccines.”

“The CFO does not share your opinion and believes the state has gone to great lengths to protect lives in the face of the Coronavirus,” reads the email sent to Gwynn by Susan Miller, who is Deputy Chief of Staff for Patronis.

In an interview with Florida Politics, Gwynn said the Healthy Kids Board of Directors has only met once since her appointment in March.

But Gwynn has appeared in approximately ten interviews with television, radio and print media since Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced the state won’t make COVID-19 vaccines available for children under five years of age at local county health departments.

The local health departments play a key role, Gwynn said, in childhood vaccination efforts. Some of the state’s poorest children in the state go to the county health departments to get vaccinated.

But health departments also play a key role in helping distribute vaccines to pediatricians who work in rural areas or in small group practices.

Pediatricians who don’t have access to large amounts of cold storage capacity rely on the local county health departments to supply COVID-19 vaccines for their patients. Additionally, pediatricians who don’t meet the minimum number of doses required to order through the state system also rely on the health departments to provide them vaccines for their patients.

“Pediatricians can still do that to this day for kids over five,” Gwynn said of relying on the health departments to provide them with COVID 19 vaccines. “They, the Governor and the state Surgeon General, just chose to not allow the under 5 to be carried (by the health departments). This is about health equity and children that live in poverty. That’s what this is about.”

The Healthy Kids Corporation provides subsidized health insurance to children throughout the state with funding that comes from both the federal government and the state.

Gwynn, a South Florida pediatrician who cares for poor children, told Florida Politics she never identified herself as a member of the Florida Health Kids Board in any of the interviews.

“I don’t like to play this game. That’s not my intent to engage in this political war,” she said.

Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat who has been talking to Gwynn about the impact of the DeSantis administration’s decision on vaccines for small children, criticized Patronis’ actions.

“I am appalled at the decision of the CFO to oust Dr. Lisa Gwynn, the President of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an expert in pediatric care and vaccines, from the Florida Healthy Kids Board because she spoke out against the administration in an effort to get her youngest, most vulnerable patients a life-saving vaccine,” Polsky wrote in a text. “The tyranny of this administration continues to smother any dissenting opinions (e.g. Dr. Scott Rivkees). All Floridians should know how an acclaimed doctor has been treated by the DeSantis regime.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


13 comments

  • Ocean Joe

    June 29, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    “The CFO does not share your opinion and believes the state has gone to great lengths to protect lies in the face of the Coronavirus,” states the email sent to Gwynn by Susan Miller, who is Deputy Chief of Staff for Patronis.
    Was this a typo or a Freudian slip?

      • Ocean Joe

        June 30, 2022 at 6:39 am

        Considering the past nonsense on the part of our state government, silencing folks and playing with statistics, it is perfectly understandable.
        Aside from the 60,000 lost, I’d say we’ve gotten past covid fairly well in spite of state government interference.

      • Ocean Joe

        June 30, 2022 at 6:50 am

        Understandable in light of the anti-science crowd running Florida. Thanks.
        You guys do a great job, thanks for allowing comments.
        With what looks like the coming swing of Florida to full Christian-nationalism, as it was when I grew up here, I say to all my redneck friends: don’t complain when you can’t buy beer on Sunday. Now if they outlaw RAP music, I’m OK with that.

  • Robin

    June 29, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    has gone to great lengths to protect lies in the face of the Coronavirus,” states the email sent to Gwynn by Susan Miller,
    Is this what the email actually said or a BIG TYPO on your reporter’s part?

  • Phil Morton

    June 30, 2022 at 3:28 am

    Putting the lives of our kids at risk in order to score political points is a bad look for our CFO and for our state. Public health includes all Floridians and should be treated as such.

  • SteveHC

    June 30, 2022 at 3:58 am

    A “CFO” – let alone one who is also a politician – should in NO WAY have this kind of authority over a professional health board’s membership. I would like to say that many of Florida’s governmental structures seem to make no sense, but the fact is that the degree of political autocracy behind them is downright disgusting.

  • Beth

    June 30, 2022 at 6:27 am

    Patronis is enabling the DeSantis administration remove anyone who speaks the truth, especially medical professionals. We already have a shortage of medical care in FL, soon no doctor will want to work in this fascist state. People wonder how Hitler came into power. Now you know. End the DeSantis dictatorship, vote him out.

  • Jim

    June 30, 2022 at 7:09 am

    I’m with Ocean Joe: it would have been a monumental Freudian slip. Otherwise a well-done story, I thought. I’m off now to see Dr. DeSantis and his financial officer about these daily headaches…

  • Jim Miles

    June 30, 2022 at 8:19 am

    Dangerous to tell the truth or talk science during the Dark Ages (ie, the DeSantis Age).

  • rosa

    June 30, 2022 at 2:35 pm

    Rona and his cronies like the CFO are a plague far worse than Covid-19! Let’s hope that we are rid of them sooner rather than later. I want to puke when I hear Rona tout how “free” we are in Florida. I pray that God helps him and his stooges to see the light and for them to stop doing the Devil’s bidding!!!

  • Wendy

    July 1, 2022 at 10:17 am

    I hadn’t seen a clear explanation of how the the state’s actions affected access. This latest move by the fascist administration is truly egregious.

  • Just a comment

    July 1, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    Seriously they owe the locals compensations for fake overpricing and the financial discrimination

Comments are closed.


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