Iowa doctor who fights COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates sues hospital

Social-media posts reference an 18-month medical board investigation

By: - September 15, 2023 5:30 pm

Dr. Mollie James, a vocal proponent of ivermectin and opponent of mask mandates and vaccine mandates, has opened a medical clinic in Iowa that sells ‘memberships’ to patients. (Main photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images; text from Dr. James’ Twitter account)

An Iowa physician who has been critical of mask mandates and the COVID-19 vaccine is now suing a Missouri hospital over its staff-vaccination requirements.

Dr. Mollie James of Chariton is suing Mercy ACO Clinical Services, Mercy Health and Mercy Health East Communities in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri. Her lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for religious discrimination and retaliation.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, James has gained national attention in some conservative circles for her promotion of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine in treating the virus, and for her public condemnations of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration and much of the medical establishment in general.

James references medical board investigation on social media

Her license is in good standing with the Iowa Board of Medicine, with no records of any public disciplinary action. However, in a July 2023 post to X, the successor to Twitter, James wrote, without elaboration: “18 months of a sham board investigation before I was cleared. No accusation of wrongdoing — just holding the threat over my head to silence me. For helping patients who were very sick and hospitalized with covid.”

That same month, she posted, “After 18 long months… Marked safe from Medical board investigations today.”

In an August 2023 posting to X, James announced she was suing the Missouri hospital where she worked in 2021 before the facility began requiring COVID-19 vaccinations of the staff, writing, “Guess who’s getting sued?!? My former employer — Mercy St. Louis fired me after 5 years of employment from my virtual ICU job (rounding from home!) — because they refused to acknowledge my religious exemption. It’s time for Christians to fight for our religious beliefs.”

In her lawsuit, James describes herself as “a believer in Jesus Christ and a member of the Roman Catholic Church” who has “treated nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients, and supervised the supervision of nearly 2,500 more.”

Missouri lawsuit stems from vaccine mandate

The lawsuit alleges that in July 2021, Mercy St. Louis mandated that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination, although exceptions were made based on medical and religious reasons.

According to the lawsuit, James applied for a religious exemption and wrote on the application that “healing power is from God alone” and she “takes direction and guidance treatments from Him and Him alone.” She also indicated she was “guided by God” to decline the vaccine.

James’ application for an exemption was denied and in August 2021, rather than be fired, she opted to resign, the lawsuit states.

James then sought a right-to-sue letter from the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. Such letters are typically a precursor to a civil lawsuits that allege discrimination, but the commission denied James’ request.

With the two-year statute of limitations set to expire, and with James still challenging the commission’s decision, lawyers for James filed the civil lawsuit against Mercy claiming retaliation and religious discrimination. The lawsuit alleges James has suffered “non-diagnosed emotional pain, suffering, humiliation, inconvenience, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.”

The lawsuit also claims Mercy intentionally discriminated against James for associating with Christians “who opposed COVID-19 vaccination as a matter of their religious faith.” Mercy ACO Clinical Services and its affiliates have yet to file a response to the lawsuit.

James has practiced medicine since 2013. She trained at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines and the University of Minnesota, then launched reBalance Functional Medicine in Des Moines in 2016, and then relocated to St. Louis.

In the early days of the pandemic, she worked periodically in the intensive care unit of a New York City hospital, traveling there monthly while also working in Missouri. After she refused to comply with the vaccine mandates at Mercy St. Louis and lost her job, James filed for bankruptcy and established The James Clinic in Chariton where, she says online, “doctors are doctors again.”

James has not responded to messages from Iowa Capital Dispatch, but she has spoken publicly about her medical philosophy on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, talk radio and conservative podcasts.

James’ social media posts contradict federal advice on COVID

In past posts to Twitter and other social media, James has called face masks silly, ineffective “face diapers,” called Fauci “evil,” and said of ivermectin, the so-called horse dewormer used by some to treat COVID-19, “There’s no medicine that’s safer on the planet.”

Much of what she says about COVID-19 contradicts the federal government’s advice on mitigation and treatment, a fact she readily acknowledges.

“I tell my patients not to get vax with natural immunity,” she tweeted. “I’ve had several tell me they understand but are pressured. Seriously, this is NOT something you need to die for!”

The CDC has emphasized the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, saying reports of adverse events such as allergic reactions, myocarditis or pericarditis are rare and the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks.

One of her websites – which once bore the domain name — stated that The James Clinic is a membership-based “concierge practice” for Iowans who are “ready to take their health back.”

Patients could pay a “membership” fee and in return they were made eligible for a multi-tiered array of services. The “Platinum+ Members” were entitled to a personal health concierge, a functional-medicine assessment, extended physician availability, “monthly advanced infusions” of something that’s not specified, and unlimited treatments in the clinic’s hyperbaric chamber.

According to the clinic’s website, treatment fees for COVID-19 have ranged from $290 for those who simply want to prevent the virus, to $990 for those with long-haul symptoms.

The FDA has not approved ivermectin for use in preventing or treating COVID-19 and says currently available data doesn’t indicate it is effective and may pose a risk to some patients.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.