Whistleblower’s Wish: Dr. J’s Last Words →

The suicide of whistleblower, Jacob Neufeld, M.D., M.P.H.

Please sign Physician Whistleblower Petition for Dr. J’s birthday today!

Dedicated to Amelia and Andrew and all Dr. J’s kids.
“I’m sorry I cannot see you grow up. You’re gonna be great kids.
One day when you are older you will hopefully understand.” ~ Dr. J

If critically ill kids could make a wish, Dr. Jacob Neufeld would be their dream come true. A wise, quirky man with the spirit of an innocent, loving child, Dr. J could always save the day.

In his mismatched socks and neon shoelaces, he kept kids giggling while helping them in ways no other doc could.

Dr. Neufeld was truly one in a million.

Of the one million US physicians, only a few hundred specialize in severely disabled children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injuries.

As a triple-board-certified pediatric physiatrist, his expertise caring for medically fragile children was off the charts. A pioneer in his field, Dr. Neufeld founded the Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine.

Lots of big words to describe the guy kids know as their real-world Superman! (His kids call him “Dr. J”)

When a stray bullet paralyzed a fifth-grader during his piano lesson, Dr. J. made the boy’s dream come true. He left the hospital popping “wheelies” in his wheelchair. Dr. J gave him a high five then waved to his family: “I expect him to go to high school. I expect him to go to college. I expect him to learn to drive an adaptive car.”

Abandoned by his father as a child and without children of his own, Dr. J cared for “his kids” like a doting father and devoted doctor. With X-ray vision he could see untapped potential in all children. A nurse shared:

During a visit with a refugee family, Dr. J told the parents their child was very smart and someday he’d go to college. I watched the family weep tears of joy and hope. Their child going to college was something they never imagined, not only because of their background, but because of their child’s disability.

Dr. J had high hopes for his kids, and he was with them each step of the way.

He gave families his cell number. He did house calls for homebound kids (and their anxious moms). And when God called his little ones home, he was the doc parents called to sit with them and hold their hands as their children passed away.

One day his therapy dog snuck up on the bed to snuggle with a small boy in the last moments of his life. As his pup comforted the boy, Dr. J consoled his mom who later praised him as the “best doctor my son ever had.”

For Dr. J medicine was not a job. Helping disabled kids was his divine calling.

* * *

So why—at the pinnacle of his career—did Dr. J end his life?

Warning: details of psychological violence and suicide may be upsetting.

Unexpected deaths must be investigated, yet most suicides are swept under the rug. Neufeld deserves a case review. In fact, he left us instructions to probe the circumstances leading to his suicide.

As a doctor who studies doctor suicides, I feel a cosmic kinship with Jay. We’re about the same age. We’re eccentric. We’re Jewish, a little neurotic, kind of OCD—and that’s the stuff that makes us meticulous, lost in details others deem inconsequential. As parentified eldest children with absent dads, our altruistic save-the-world intensity may be misunderstood, yet we leave no stone unturned in pursuit of medical justice for our patients.

Jay and I grew up in neighboring South Jersey townships; his funeral just two miles from my childhood home. One week after his death I flew to Boise, the city where Jay hanged himself at home with his dog’s leash.

I was sitting in the living room of the person who sent me this email on September, 29, 2017:

Pamela, a friend from my hospital hanged himself today. Admin has been crushing him down . . . I wish hospital execs cared or understood the part they play in driving docs to suicide. Still pretty raw. I did what I could for him. Still have survivor’s guilt wondering if I could have done more. Jacob Neufeld, age 55. His wife’s birthday is Monday, and her present is to hopefully pick him up from the morgue so he can be buried back home in New Jersey by Wednesday, per Jewish custom.

The email continued:

New boss hated him, or so he felt. Forced him into 10-week therapy for burnout and depression—after they caused it. Mandated into addiction recovery despite testing clean. Despite being cleared to work, when he came back, they’d already packed up his office. ‘I’m done with you,’ his physician boss supposedly told him days before he died. Apparently told him he was not profitable enough.

Caring for disabled children isn’t a big money-maker. To increase profit, hospitals push docs to see more patients. Dr. J’s day was jam-packed—each visit now capped at 20 minutes. That’s three medically fragile kids per hour. Takes 10 minutes to get the family settled in the exam room. Leaning in with his stethoscope to listen to the child, he’d inevitably hear a knock on his door and “time’s up.”

Anxious to spend more time with his kids, Neufeld skipped meals. He’d arrive early and work late. He did house calls and was available 24/7 by phone.

Dr. J always made my son laugh. He’d get a kick out of him and looked forward to seeing his crazy socks. My son has limited speech, but Dr. J would always find a way to connect with him. He not only cared for my son, but also for me—knowing I’m a single working mom, he’d always ask if I had any ‘me’ time.

In his “me” time, Dr. J compulsively served his kids by writing articles, publishing research, and editing his journal. To “destress” he began painting—with medical supplies.

“Everyone paints with a paint brush,” he said. “This is a new genre of art!”

One-of-a-kind colorful canvases decorated using syringes, needles, scissors, sponges, swabs—all expired surgical tools discarded by his hospital. His textured, vibrant paintings now grace the foyer of Ballet Idaho and homes of philanthropists who purchased pieces to support his hospital and Make-a-Wish Foundation. All proceeds fulfill his kids’ dreams.

“Wherever the art of medicine is loved there is also a love of humanity” ~ Hippocrates

Dr. J’s avant-garde style rocked Idaho’s art scene. A Boise art studio owner claimed Dr. J’s options were limitless. “Can we say Guggenheim? Can we say Museum of Modern Art?”

When his hospital’s public relations team got their newfound artist celebrated on TV, his new physician boss, a shrewd businesswoman (hired three years after Neufeld), demanded he keep a low profile to fit in. She warned Neufeld if he wanted to keep his job, he couldn’t paint.

Dr. J painting with a syringe

* * *

Understaffing undermines doctor’s dream

Idaho (ranked #1 state for doctor shortages) was desperate for docs.

Dr. Neufeld loved to feel needed and he was in demand. He was a leader at top academic centers from New York to California; and was chief of pediatric rehab at Medical College of Virginia, where he was elected medical staff president of their Children’s Hospital.

In 2012, a Boise hospital courted Neufeld with promises to fund his journal, his research, and fully support him as medical director of their new state-of-the-art pediatric rehabilitation center. Excited to launch Idaho’s flagship program, he and his wife left their beloved community for his dream job.

Upon arrival in spring 2013, Neufeld was Idaho’s first and only fully dedicated pediatric physiatrist.

Dr. J began volunteering at his kids’ events where he became the superdad he never had. When disabled kids were having fun, he was on cloud nine.

Dr. J as Muscular Dystrophy Association camp doctor

One challenge for hospitals is what to do when short-staffed with only one specialist. Neufeld’s employment contract guaranteed he’d not be the only doc on-call 24/7. Then a surgeon parted ways with the hospital leaving Neufeld the only doc in the state who could manage baclofen spinal pumps (for patients with severe muscle spasms).

As Neufeld’s program was expanding, he’d been voicing more urgent concerns to hospital leaders about dangerous understaffing that left him working 24/7/365 indefinitely without backup. His pleas to hire more specialists were ignored. So Neufeld had little choice but to consult his attorney about holding his hospital accountable for contract violations risking his kids’ lives.

Why would a hospital endanger patients by not hiring enough doctors?

Physician executives know how to work physician employees into the ground. Having escaped the patient-care rat race, execs sleep well knowing Neufeld’s work ethic keeps him up all night. Even if worn out. And if he makes a mistake, he’s liable, not his boss.

Getting one doc to do the job of two or three is a huge financial win. A hospital can save millions by intentionally not hiring physicians to help Neufeld.

In early 2017, Neufeld alerted his boss months before a prescheduled weekend trip. He confirmed, per his contract, his hospital would ensure a doctor was there in his absence.

Landing at the airport, Neufeld’s cell rang. One of his kids was hospitalized with a baclofen pump malfunction. When he discovered they’d not hired a temporary doc, he managed the crisis by phone as he flew back to Boise. Thankfully, the boy stabilized in the ICU. Dr. J sent him home the next day.

Spring 2017 on contract renewal, Neufeld got a 30% pay cut while still on call every second of every day for thousands of fragile children. His focus wasn’t money, but patient safety. He called his boss to demand a case review of the ICU near-miss.

When Neufeld entered her office, she locked the door behind him. Inside were three administrators (likely coached by hospital attorneys, common amid employee disputes). Neufeld was denied a case review. He was given a choice: sign his new contract or be sent to a psychiatrist to determine if he was “impaired.”

Ambushed, pressured for an answer, Neufeld was stunned. Certain he’d be deemed competent, he agreed to their coerced psychiatric exam.

* * *

Physician whistleblower retaliation—more common than patients know

I’ve spoken with lots of docs ensnared by false impairment charges.

Ethical doctors are so painfully naïve; they just can’t think like criminals.

In the “underground playbook” lawyered-up hospitals use against do-gooder docs, all that’s needed to silence a “problem” is an impairment allegation.

One false allegation can end a physician’s career.

On what might they base their allegation?

If Neufeld raises his voice about understaffing, he might be labeled “disruptive”
and sent to anger management classes.

If Neufeld can’t complete chart notes during 20-minute visits, he might be labeled “inefficient”
and sent to a documentation course.

If Neufeld feels fatigued, be might be labeled with “burnout” and be told to complete “resilience” modules.

Of all words that blame doctors, the most damaging is “impairment.”

An impairment allegation is a fast and tidy way to destroy a whistleblower (without getting blood directly on your hands). On allegation alone, a doctor must stop working, may not practice elsewhere—and is guilty as charged in the eyes of the medical board.

Idaho’s medical board must protect Idaho patients from unsafe doctors. An “impairment” allegation means Neufeld must “voluntarily” agree to a “confidential” evaluation that’s neither voluntary nor confidential—or lose his license.

His hospital required Neufeld’s evaluation by Idaho’s physician health program (PHP), a company claiming to specialize in addiction and substance abuse—neither were problems for Neufeld.

In April 2017, Neufeld submitted Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) forms, then called the PHP for return-to-work clearance. He trusted he’d get evaluated in town and be back at work in a few days.

After a brief intake (partly via text), Idaho’s PHP (located four miles from his hospital) recommended Neufeld fly 2,115 miles to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for a weeklong hospitalization in May at their “preferred” addiction center, even knowing there was no basis for addiction treatment and thousands of Idaho children would lose their only doctor.

Why send Neufeld to Mississippi?

To get rid of him. To shut him up.

A truth-speaker, Dr. Neufeld spent his life defending the most vulnerable (likely to cope with hidden anxiety and powerlessness he felt as a vulnerable child). So Dr. J knew how to fight for rights of disabled kids. He didn’t know his alleged “disability” meant he had rights under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for misuse of fitness for duty exams. All compulsory fitness exams/treatments must be paid by employer. Yet Neufeld (and his insurance) would soon pay for his own emotional and financial extortion in excess of $100,000.

To protect his fragile patients, he resisted his out-of-state exam—until threatened he’d lose his job. Fearing for his career, he acquiesced.

* * *

Mississippi medical smear campaign

Shocked by how quickly his career was derailed, Neufeld reluctantly boarded a plane leaving family, friends, and his kids (with no doctor!).

Perplexed, Neufeld wondered: Why must he fly to Mississippi for clearance to return to work in Idaho? Who would care for his kids in his absence? Why was his boss so hostile? What the hell was happening to him?

He was being psychologically groomed to accept the unacceptable.

I know others entrapped in the same facility by their state PHPs for sham evals that include polygraphs. Some describe their time as involuntary civil commitment under threat of career destruction.

Unanimous one-star Google reviews warn:

It is common to receive multiple diagnoses that may not be accurate. Any attempt to discuss their reasoning behind such diagnoses and you’re ‘in denial.’ I was not depressed before I came to this place, but I’m struggling with depression now. They’ve been allowed to continue treating health professionals in this abusive, draconian manner because most of us are too terrified to say anything if we make it out and back to our home states.

May 1, 2017, Neufeld was assigned an addiction psychiatrist known to be “curt, non-empathetic, and lacking intellectual integrity” in a rehab survivors call a “mind-twisting, gaslighting horror show.”

When asking his psychiatrist to protect his confidentiality, he was told to sign all consents or be reported noncompliant to his medical board. Entrapped, he “voluntarily” signed to waive his confidentiality.

Two weeks later, his boss had what she wanted in her hot little hands—his “neuropsychological” report. Inside colleagues praised his skill and compassion, yet his boss (mandating his bad-faith exam) claimed he was absent-minded, prone to errors, and failed to recognize social cues. Hazardous understaffing was ignored by his addiction psychiatrist who declared Neufeld unfit to practice medicine. His “recommended” treatment: a six-week hospitalization back at their own addiction facility.

Knowing he’d lose any future in medicine if he refused, Neufeld was forced to abandon his kids with no doctor for months while bored out of his mind in Mississippi.

Upon arrival May 31, 2017, he got little attention from staff (clearly an unneeded hospitalization at an addiction facility). Toxicology tests were normal because, of course, he had no addiction. Yet he had to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. Other than a few weekly confrontational sessions on “boundary violations” and work-life balance, he was ignored. [Curious how unqualified staff with community college certificates thwart a doctor’s career? The husband of a physician who died by suicide in a PHP reveals their scheme.]

Mississippi victims report:

This is an unbelievably backwards ‘treatment center’ in the Deep South that compels behavior through implicit threats of diagnostic abuse . . . incompetent greedy uncaring twisted dehumanizing sadomasochistic. . . non-MDs cherish breaking doctors down . . . They ‘hold the cards’ by threatening to not clear people to return to work or regain their licenses . . . I saw many people fall apart. Fight to the death with your board to go to another place. It is psychologically destabilizing and can ruin your career and life. Run away if you can. Run. Run. Run.

A doc who ran out of money after paying $100,000+ cash described it as “adult babysitting” without activities or learning.

Sitting idle, Dr, Neufeld began studying for his upcoming recertification exams. His substance abuse counselors reprimanded him for studying as a distraction from his “therapy.” He feared losing his certifications, yet if caught studying he’d be reported “noncompliant” and lose his license.

With his hospital staff privileges suspended beyond 30 days, he’d now be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, effectively blacklisting him from future employment.

His counselors did permit Dr. Neufeld to start painting as a way to explore his feelings.

“Impatience and physician health program anxiety” by Dr. J

Overwhelmed by his captivity, he drove an hour to New Orleans for dinner (he did not drink). Upon disclosing his absence, Dr. Neufeld was scolded. He was told this was the type of behavior that led to his hospitalization.

“New Orleans dinner disobeyed direct orders” by Dr. J

His hospitalization was lengthened by a month.

After 71 days (more than 10 weeks) Dr. Neufeld was discharged August 10, 2017.

* * *

Finally permitted to practice medicine—conditionally

Neufeld’s PHP contract required years of surveillance. To return to work, he must (1) secure a “worksite monitor” to oversee him during all work hours; (2) get retrained on baclofen pumps; (3) ask his boss for permission to care for any child with a baclofen pump (neither his boss nor addiction psychiatrist mandating retraining have expertise with spinal pumps). To practice pediatric physiatry, Dr. Neufeld must (4) begin marriage counseling (both he and his wife individually and together); (5) keep regular work hours; (6) never volunteer for committees; (7) attend Emotions Anonymous at least once weekly; (8) never share cell number with families; (9) maintain appropriate boundaries; (10) complete monthly Boundary Violation Index (Focus is patient sexual boundaries. For an ethical doc with no sexual misconduct, motive is to stop house calls.); (11) review “boundary violation” results monthly with therapist; and (12) return to Mississippi twice yearly for weeklong recheck.

In other words, he’d be tethered to their addiction center indefinitely and could never be the doctor his kids and families so loved and admired.

His report made no mention of hazardous understaffing, yet claimed Neufeld blamed others, avoided accountability, and “might still face challenges recognizing and respecting authority.” He was diagnosed with “mild major depression” and declared a narcissist and rigid perfectionist with trouble delegating. To whom could Neufeld delegate as the only pediatric physiatrist? Not addressed.

In Mississippi, Neufeld began to feel suicidal, yet was declared not to be suicidal by a marriage therapist who wrote his addiction center discharge weeks before his suicide.

On August 10, returning to his hospital he found his possessions packed in boxes he was prohibited to access. While on job-protected FMLA, his replacements were recruited—two pediatric physiatrists (one hired August 11 another in October). Neufeld was demoted as medical director and told if he failed to comply with each return-to-work order, he’d be terminated.

In numbed disbelief, he signed his outrageous return-to-work agreement.

* * *

Underground playbook to drive a doctor to suicide

Rather than address understaffing endangering kids’ lives, hospital leaders in concert with Idaho’s PHP, and their “preferred” Mississippi addiction center silenced Dr. Neufeld with an onslaught of 17 unfounded allegations:

Secret playbook for targeting a physician whistleblower

In the minds of hospital execs are strategies to destroy “problem” docs. I’ve listed their motivation for each allegation to illustrate how good docs are framed as “impaired.”

Psychologically paralyzed, Dr. J was too unnerved to fight for patient safety. End goal: whistleblower self-destruction (even by suicide) while perpetrators of psychological crimes remain hidden.

Countless docs have suicided in so-called “health” programs (see TV investigative report). A survivor recounts:

You will begin to question your sanity. Techniques are based on humiliation and shame . . . underlying philosophy is total emotional and psychological destruction. It took every ounce of strength not to leave here a broken human being. . . Physicians have taken their own lives after completing ‘treatment’ here.

“My best friend there killed himself two days after I left,” another physician reported. “I saw the staff systematically break him down until he had no personality or emotion. He was a shell after the public humiliation.”

Psychological strategies to disable Neufeld included: (1) enforcing social isolation in Mississippi to disrupt his life and career; (2) giving false hope then inflicting repeated disappointments causing self-doubt about future; (3) eroding self-confidence with reputation damage, work failures, marital distress; (4) gaslighting so victim questions own sanity; (5) requiring incorrect treatments for unsupported diagnoses with unneeded hospitalizations causing mental breakdown and/or psychosis—so disbelieved victim accepts persecutor’s agenda.

Neufeld’s character assassination may have been initiated by one person, then handed to the state-board-sanctioned “health” program that detains whistleblowers behind “a facade of protecting the public.” Groomed by his captors’ reassuring phrases, “We’ll help you get back to work” and “Just sign here,” doctors fall into their lethal trap. Finally, docs are duped into funding their own destruction with “Isn’t your license worth $100,000?” (services are self-pay in violation of ADA plus fraud isn’t generally covered by insurance).

Weeks before his suicide, Neufeld sought a second opinion. His Boise psychiatrist found no basis for surveillance and told Neufeld to cease PHP treatment. He declared Neufeld fit for duty.

Three days before Neufeld’s suicide, his boss supposedly told him, despite his psychiatrist’s work release, they never intended Neufeld’s return.

After complying with his groundless 10-week hospitalization, Dr. J lost his program, reputation, and career. Ripped away from his kids, not permitted to help them amid his impossible surveillance contract, he lay grief-stricken in a fetal position on the couch.

Heartbroken, Dr. J lost his career—and his kids.

Minutes before his suicide, Dr. Neufeld recorded this video:

In the end I do blame everything on the mismanagement for handling of this whole thing by my hospital. I was clearly triggered by their closing of my office. That put me in a downward spiral. I’ve been fighting to get better. I just can’t seem to overcome the disappointment, shame, my own failure, and my inability to communicate the deep pain that I feel from my failure, my depression, my burnout, the lack of help. It’s clearly documented that there was no call coverage for my patients for years. It was just me. There was no help at all. I just don’t have any more desire, I don’t know why. It’s like it was all sucked out of me. They wouldn’t let me go back to work. There was no coordination between med staff and administration and it just kept dragging on and on and on . . . Please God help me. Please God forgive me. Forgive me for all my sins. Forgive me for all my transgressions. I did not hurt anybody. Nobody died. There were no serious mistakes. This is all an overreaction. Yes I was depressed and burned out because I was the only person. I just can’t keep going on like this. I don’t understand exactly why I’ve gone into this depression.

Menticide is organized crime against the mind—a methodical stripping away of Jay’s identity until he apologized for being himself and begged for forgiveness.

* * *

Assembly-line medicine—unsafe at any speed

Speaking up for patient safety, I was fired like Jay. Stripped of my professional identity, I became suicidal.

As a new doctor, I had to see 28 patients per day. Four per hour. If two didn’t show up, I’d get a sticky note on my door, “we added two more patients on your schedule tomorrow.” Meaning I’d be “double-booked” in two slots, each with two people scheduled the exact same time. When a doc was out sick, I was double- and triple-booked all day. I saw nearly 50 patients!

An informal survey of family docs asked, “How many patients can you see per day safely?” The consensus: 11.

By patient 12, most docs are so emotionally fried they tune out.

My friend, seeing up to 95 patients per day, was skipping meals and up all night finishing charts and billing due within 24 hours. If delinquent, he’d be declared inefficient. To escape, he attempted suicide.

To increase profits, hospitals push volume while replacing registered nurses with nurse’s aides, physicians with physician assistants. The few docs still standing have packed schedules and must supervise their “assistants.”

Can’t hack it? Leave. By resignation, termination, retirement, even suicide.

Or ascend the corporate ladder as a physician executive.

An executive’s job is to execute. Meaning both carry out an order and carry out a death sentence. Hospital executives carry out orders that have led to deaths of patients—and doctors like Jay Neufeld.

Some physician executives are executing their own physician employees.

I consider Dr. J’s suicide a homicide.

Capital punishment—since he didn’t generate enough capital.

* * *

Justice for Dr. J

Jacob Neufeld died a broken man. He never grasped the game plan among hospitals, med boards, and PHPs. He never read the secret playbook that killed him.

Hearing Jay’s voice pleading for forgiveness, I yearn to tell him: You’re not at fault. You were tormented to death.

Jay, I now know 25 doctors who died by suicide under the care of these “health” programs. I’ve summarized concerns in my letter to DOJ.

With your job-protection rights under FMLA, ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act violated; your patient safety concerns ignored, you were harassed with false diagnoses in a bogus hospitalization to remove you from the program you built. By obstructing your return to work, your physician supervisors left you with no will to live.

Multiple people and their “preferred” programs created the circumstances leading to the disintegration of your life. In so doing, they abetted your suicide.

Jay, had you died in India not Idaho, those responsible for your suicide would have been arrested immediately (like three physician supervisors who abetted Dr. Tadvi’s suicide) per Section 306 Indian Penal Code Abetment of Suicide with imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Those who abetted Dr J’s suicide remain at large. The principal perpetrator moved to another hospital and changed her name, presumably to hide past misdeeds.

* * *

Dr. J’s last wish

Due to the actions of a few, thousands of kids will never see their beloved doctor’s smiling face again; thousands of future patients were robbed the opportunity to feel safe in Dr. J’s caring hands. His grieving family still in anguished sorrow and confusion about the real reason he died by suicide.

And that’s why I’m writing this. To resolve confusion for those blessed to know and love the man who walked the earth as Jacob Alan Neufeld.

And to help those who abetted his suicide learn from their misdeeds. I pray for your enlightenment.

Dr. J’s wish spoken in the final moments of his life:

Hospitals have to do a better job at helping the doctors. We are being left out. We are being disposed of. We are being minimized. Administrations don’t communicate. They put down dictums. And I hope someone will listen to this in the future and learn from it. There definitely needs to be an investigation by the Joint Commission, a root cause analysis by the hospital association. My hospital has clearly failed and people need to understand that you have got to help more doctors. That you can’t treat us this way. It’s cruel. It’s unusual. It’s not fair. And, yes, life is not fair. I hope that maybe someone will pay attention to this because I don’t want more doctors to do what I am about to do.

While his wife was at her “therapy” session (a return-to-work order by his employer), Dr. J hanged himself.

* * *

Dr. Jacob Neufeld truly cared for thousands of medically fragile kids every minute of every day. The fact that he did so 24/7/365 alone with no major mishaps or deaths means Dr. J was truly Superman.

His impairment charge was his kryptonite.

Even Superman can be broken. His savior complex born of childhood abandonment was his superpower that ultimately overpowered him. When forced to abandon his children, Dr. J lost his dream and could not save himself.

What allowed his kids to thrive wasn’t just his scientific skill; Dr. J had another superpower—he could make dreams come true.

Shortly after settling in Boise, he invited his mom to visit. A nurse gave her a big hug and shared how in just a few weeks, Dr. J inspired two children to make a wish—and he made both their wishes come true!

Dr. J made countless wishes come true.
Now it’s our turn to make Dr. J’s wish come true.

True heroes never truly die; Dr. J lives forever in the hearts of all children he inspires.

YOU can make Dr. J’s dying wish come true!

1) Share Whistleblower’s Wish on social media and with your doctor

2) Sign Physician Whistleblower Protection Petition

3) Inspired to do more? Contact Dr. Wible

Pamela Wible, M.D., is a suicidologist who runs a free doctor suicide helpline. She investigates doctor suicides and eulogizes victims to ensure their lives are celebrated. Dr. Wible performs psychological autopsies and provides postvention crisis support to prevent future suicides.

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Dr. Michelle Fernandez—Emergency Physician to the World (Obituary) →

Michelle Fernandez MD MPH Obituary

A passionate leader in emergency medicine, Michelle C. Fernandez, M.D.. M.P.H., traveled the world sharing her talents with those fortunate enough to witness her excellence. She died December 25, 2023, at age 49.

Asked why she became a physician, she replied, “When I figured out what I was capable of and what the world needs, there was no other choice.”

Dr. Fernandez was a wizard at “O.P.P.” (“Other Peoples’ Problems,” she quipped) and thrived as an adrenaline junkie, often working more than 30 days in a row. Thousands are alive today due to her medical prowess (defined as “bravery in battle”). Yet her prowess extended beyond crime-ridden US inner cities to Iraqi war zones and into Amazonian jungles.

After surviving her own childhood trauma, Dr. Fernandez devoted her life to serving the most traumatized. A graduate of Auburn University (1998), she received her Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (2002) and her Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University (2007). She completed emergency medicine residency at New York-Presbyterian in Queens (2010), where more than 130 languages are spoken in the emergency department by patients in the most ethnically diverse county in the US.

She found “her people” in New Orleans dive bars, Oklahoma Native American reservations, and at Iraqi gas stations, where she’d be hanging out conversing in Arabic with the owner and patrons. As a doctor, her greatest joy was to be fully present and deeply compassionate amid life-and-death emergencies.

Michelle Fernandez MD, Emergency Physician

Michelle worked hard, but played harder. From night snorkeling in the Caribbean to racing her sports car down narrow New Orleans streets, spending time with Michelle was like riding a rollercoaster. You felt excited, a little nervous, and a bit scared. Yet when it was over you’d have survived one of the most exciting experiences of your life.

A fierce protector, unbreakable confidante, and force of nature, she was dubbed “Hurricane Fernandez,” by friends who labeled her a category 5 (and 5-star physician).

An unforgettable bundle of energy and memorable character in the minds of all, Hurricane Fernandez lived life in the eye of the storm, yet also shared love effortlessly. Gift-giving was her specialty and she delighted in presenting handmade cards and jewelry uniquely chosen for each person.

Dr. Fernandez had well-treated depression and ADHD, high functioning on her medications for twenty years—until her doctor retired. Despite help from physician friends with finding another doctor, Dr. Fernandez was unable to secure a new physician willing to continue her medications. As a result, she slipped into a state of depressive hopelessness and chose to end her life on Christmas Day 2023.

Preceded in death by her beloved rescue cat, Travis, she is survived by rescues, Egypt and Cheetah. Donations in her honor may be made to the cat rescue of your choice or physician suicide prevention programs at IdealMedicalCare.org.

Dr. Michelle Fernandez - Travis Rescue Cat

Dr. Michelle Fernandez & her rescue cat, Travis

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PHPs—A Critical Look Parts 1 and 2 →

Excellent information on Physician Health Programs. Thank you Drs. Andrew, Manion, and Miller!

Join us every Sunday for help in our PHP peer support group.

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Doctor suicides in physician “health” programs →

I know 25 docs who died by suicide in physician “health” programs. If you’re suicidal, don’t tell your boss (PD, or med board). You’ll be sent to a PHP  4-day evaluation & 90-day out-of-state “preferred” center with polygraphs and 5-years of AA & drug tests (even if you don’t do drugs) costing you 250K. Don’t comply (or can’t afford)? Board yanks your license & publishes your suicidal thoughts online. That will make you suicidal.

FREE Zoom session this Sunday for help. For your confidential link contact Dr. Wible here.

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How we honor our dead (who gets celebrated, who gets ignored) →

(Video transcript below)

When a beautiful young doctor stepped off the rooftop of her Mount Sinai Hospital building—they covered her with a tarp.


Here’s the grassroots memorial that took over my training hospital after Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s assassination attempt.

Gabby Gifford UMC

Here’s a living memorial for a Swedish teen who took her life in the ocean in 2013.

Swedish teen suicide 1

For more than a decade I’ve been passing by this ghost bike for Oregon cyclist David Minor in downtown Eugene.

David Matthew Minor Ghost Bike

Here’s an Oregon roadside memorial to fallen policeman Kelly Fredinburg.


And a memorial for actor Robin Williams who died by suicide.

When Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski died by suicide, within hours he had a memorial.


Yet when Dr. Deelshad Joomun, who devoted her life to caring for others, stepped off her hospital—all she got was a tarp and silence—until I intervened.


Is this how we should treat people—physicians—who devote their lives to us?


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