EL CENTRO — Roy Dorantes, local multimedia journalist and Dr. Tien Vo Meals to Heal Program co-founder and volunteer, recently demanded a public apology from El Centro Regional Medical Center and it’s CEO, Dr. Adolphe Dr. Edward, for an alleged slander that occurred during a press conference Thursday, January 7.
Dorantes stated he has received much scrutiny from the public after images were published of him being administered the COVID-19 vaccination.
During the Imperial County Public Health Department’s joint press conference, Dr. Edward stated that Dorantes re-entered the ECRMC vaccination clinic on Sunday, January 3, after being asked to leave (where he was later vaccinated).
As per Dr. Edward, the first time Dorantes entered, he had a camera with him and was asked to leave because it was a clinic and cameras weren’t allowed for the protection of patient privacy.
“After a certain time, he (Dorantes) apparently re-entered the building without our knowledge and since then we’ve actually put a security guard in the entrance of the medical office building,” said Dr. Edward.
According to Dorantes, he felt singled out.
“I feel that he is implying that I snuck in and was in fact stealing the vaccine, which is slanderous to me,” said Dorantes. “This is defamation of character, this is damaging to my work as a volunteer, and as a community activist. All of my work is based on community projects and his (Dr. Edward's) comments are affecting my livelihood.”
In an interview with The Desert Review, Dorantes gave his account of how he came to be administered the COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, January 3.
“As a Meals to Heal co-founder and volunteer, I was invited by Dr. Vo to accompany his medical staff to go to the hospital the evening of January 3,” said Dorantes. “Dr. Vo’s staff had been invited by Dr. Edward to take the vaccine and Dr. Vo wanted me to document it so to generate confidence within the community about the vaccine.”
Dorantes did concede that he was told he couldn’t come in to the ECRMC vaccine clinic with a camera.
“I complied immediately,” said Dorantes. “As I was preparing to leave, I received a call from Dr. Vo that instructed me to go in to take the vaccine. I said, ‘are you sure?’ And he said yes, I talked to Dr. Edward and he’s inviting all the volunteers to take the vaccine.”
The discrepancy between Dr. Edward’s and Dorantes’ accounts of events on January 3, is that Dr. Edward never mentioned himself (directly or indirectly) inviting Dorantes to take the vaccine during the joint presser.
“I asked Dr. Vo a second time if he was sure and he said, ‘yes, I’ll go down and get you,’” said Dorantes. “At the same time, Dr. Vo sent out a group text (messenger chat group) to his medical staff volunteers informing that by invitation of Dr. Edward, we as volunteers are to get in line to get the vaccine. We were accompanied by Dr. Vo the whole time”
Dorantes claimed that in the vaccine room, right before getting the vaccine, Dr. Edward saw him, smiled at him, and even joked around with him.
“After taking the vaccine, many of us in the volunteer room took pictures to display on social media, in an effort to promote confidence in the vaccine,” said Dorantes. “Due to the fact that we were not allowed to use our cell phones or cameras, Dr. Vo took the pictures.”
According to Dorantes, Dr. Edward is now changing the narrative and using him as a scapegoat.
“The hospitals are the gatekeepers of the vaccine,” said Dorantes. “The final responsibility is on them (hospitals). Whoever gets in line and gets accepted (to get the vaccine) is up to them (hospital). It is not the public’s job to interpret the tiers, it is the hospital’s job. We are made aware of the tiers only for public information, but the hospitals are supposed to have the final say.”
Dorantes is also demanding a full investigation on the hospital’s administration.
“Based on comments made by hospital administration and staff, it is my understanding that there were friends, family, and political contacts of hospital administration who took the vaccine the Wednesday before we did,” said Dorantes. “Why were they there? I’m not blaming them for being there. I’m sure they were told to be there, so the gatekeeper is the one to blame.”
Dorantes posed questions alluding to ECRMC’s potential favoritism and vaccine mismanagement.
“If there is mismanagement and favoritism occurring, it is completely on the hospital,” said Dorantes. “The public deserves a full explanation because we have people that are sick, that are dying, and mismanagement can cause lives.”
According to Dorantes, he accepted the vaccine because he does not know more than the doctors.
“It is not my job to know more than they (hospital) do,” said Dorantes. “It is their job to interpret (the tiers) and administer it (the vaccine), not my job. We trust our medical authorities and now what the hospital is doing is undermining the trust in our medical authorities.”
As per Dorantes, an investigation is needed to restore the public’s trust in local medical authorities.
“Worse than dropping the ball, the gatekeepers hid the ball and want to blame me for being there by invitation to save vaccines,” said Dorantes. “I am the object of an unjust action by Dr. Edward and that is why I am demanding a full written retraction, a full written apology, and an investigation into the practice of the distribution of the vaccine if there was favoritism and mismanagement.”
Dorantes delivered his petition via email to Dr. Edward Tuesday, January 13.
“If after 10 days, I get no response, then my next step will be to consider legal action,” said Dorantes.
ECRMC communicated to The Desert Review that Dorantes identified his petition as a Tort Claim, (civil claim where a claimant has suffered damages due to the actions of the person who committed the act) and will be processed in the same way as any other claim.