AMITA Resurrection Hospital, 7435 W. Talcott Ave., on Sept. 7, 2021. Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago

NORWOOD PARK — Employees at AMITA Resurrection Hospital are being targeted by conspiracy theorists because they won’t treat a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin, a drug meant for parasites that is not an approved treatment for coronavirus.

Jefferson Park resident Veronica Wolski was hospitalized two weeks ago after contracting COVID-19, according to VICE. She claims she asked a doctor to administer ivermectin and was refused, according to Wolski’s social media posts reviewed by VICE. 

Ivermectin is a prescription for animals and humans approved by Food and Drug Administration to treat infections caused by parasites. Much like hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin is gaining traction in some circles as a rumored cure for COVID-19, but it not authorized or approved for prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

The National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel also has determined there is insufficient data to recommend ivermectin for treatment of any viral infections.

Wolski, known for demonstrating on a bridge over the Kennedy Expressway, has been chronicling her hospitalization via Telegram, according to VICE. After she was refused ivermectin, her friends urged supporters to protest outside the hospital earlier this week. Then, a prominent QAnon influencer encouraged supporters to call the facility and demand physicians agree to Wolski’s request for ivermectin, VICE reported.

Asked about the VICE article, hospital spokeswoman Olga Solares confirmed the hospital has received “hundreds” of “phone calls and emails associated with this patient’s care.”

“At AMITA Health, our first priority is the health and safety of our patients. Our physicians and clinicians follow the full guidance of the FDA and the CDC in the treatment of COVID-19,” Solares said.

Attempts to reach Wolski for comment were unsuccessful. 

A security guard told Block Club three or four people showed up to a planned protest Monday and the demonstration quickly “fizzled out.”

In 2016, Wolski spent months at the pedestrian bridge near her home stumping for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ failed presidential primary bid, according to the Tribune. At the time, Sanders had already lost the primary, but Wolski went to the bridge nearly every day with a 10-foot-long handmade banner that read #BringBernieBack.

In a 2019 video, Wolski was interviewed at the bridge about why she changed the banners to support the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory. That conspiracy helped fuel the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s capital and is contributing to the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines used to prevent its spread.

In December, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson began promoting ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, which drew criticism from doctors and got him suspended from YouTube for a week.

People self-medicating with ivermectin has resulted in overdoses, misuse and adverse effects because some people are taking doses of the medication intended for animals, not humans, according to the CDC.

In Ohio, the wife of a COVID-19 patient in a local ICU sued the hospital where he’s being treated to try to force doctors to honor an ivermectin prescription written by another physician outside the hospital. An initial ruling last month ordered the hospital to fill the prescription, but another judge overturned that this week.

Arthur Caplan, the director of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, told CBS this week using ivermectin with its side effects is like throwing a “100-pound rock” that will hasten the death of an already sick person.

“I know people are desperate, looking around for treatments, want to do something, anything they can think of. They see something promising on the internet and they believe it,” Caplan said. “Look at the side effects of ivermectin, look at the damage being done. Then you look at the vaccine and the problems it has — which are next to nothing. Take the vaccine, don’t get into the position where you need to use something like ivermectin.”

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has said 95 percent of Chicagoans hospitalized with and dying from COVID-19 recently are not vaccinated.

The doctor has urged all people to take precautions, like wearing a mask indoors in public, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

And on Tuesday, she urged people not to take ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

“In no case should anybody try to take a veterinary formula, ever, of any medication. And, unfortunately, this is what we’ve been seeing: People have been trying to buy veterinary formulations of this deworming medication,” Arwady said.

People have been reported taking ivermectin in very large doses, leading to liver problems, nausea and “all kinds of issues,” she said. 

“First and foremost, do not ever, please, take any medicine that is formulated for animals. It’s dangerous and it can really be a problem,” she said. “… I am a little surprised, I guess, that there are people who want to take a veterinary medicine that is not FDA-approved but then don’t want to take the vaccine that has had really widespread human trials and is approved.”

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

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