I am a patient of the Sansum Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, where I am undergoing daily treatments. I was extremely distressed to read in the September 23 Indy issue that one of the Ridley-Tree doctors, Dr. Mark Abate, is not only not vaccinated for COVID-19 but refuses to be vaccinated. This man is endangering my life!

By not being vaccinated he has a much higher probability (by a factor of 4 to 1) of being infected by COVID, and therefore a much higher probability of passing it on to me or to other patients of Sansum. Sansum Clinic should remove this doctor from contact with patients at all of its facilities. He should not be allowed to endanger patients!

Editor’s Note: We asked Sansum for a reply to this letter, which follows:

Thank you for sharing your concern about this unfortunate situation. We understand it is causing you distress on top of your cancer diagnosis, and we wish the circumstances were different. Please know that Dr. Abate’s views are his own and do not reflect the views of Sansum Clinic leadership or the vast majority of physicians and other providers at Sansum Clinic.

More than 99 percent of the 250-plus providers at Sansum Clinic are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Sansum Clinic has been an outspoken leader in promoting vaccination of the entire community and of healthcare providers in particular. Our staff has worked nights and weekends (the times when we have administered most of the 20,000-plus injections that we have given) in order to vaccinate the community. We vaccinated many of our community’s medical staff who are not part of Sansum Clinic at the request of the local Public Health Department, as we were able to do that before others could. Vaccinating all healthcare workers is critically important.

Although we disagree with Dr. Abate’s views on the mandate, the California Public Health Department (CDPH) has granted people the ability to utilize religious or medical exemptions to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. We will abide by those regulations, which will require any person using an exemption to be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19 on a regular basis, at least once weekly and more often in some circumstances. All our provider staff are screened daily for symptoms and are required to wear masks.

We will honor religious or medical exemptions that meet the guidelines of the (CDPH) as we comply with their regulations, while at the same time doing everything we can to protect our staff, our patients and the community, as we have done from the outset of the pandemic.


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