A former San Diego County medical officer says he was fired after struggling to deal with burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new lawsuit filed Wednesday. Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county’s chief medical officer when the pandemic took hold, said he was under extreme stress and overwhelmed by October last year and briefly considered suicide, leading to a four-week medical leave. When he returned, he claims the county forced him to take another leave or risk termination. That period lasted another seven weeks, and when Yphantides tried to return in March, the county required him to take a “fitness for duty” exam, he said. Yphantides agreed to take it, but when the exam was not completed, he was fired, the lawsuit says.
“If the county can remorselessly dismiss a high-profile and influential chief medical officer like myself because of the strain that I went through trying to save lives, I believe this can happen to any of my heroic colleagues that are still in the trenches serving our region,” Yphantides said, per the San Diego Union-Tribune. The county did not comment, citing the ongoing litigation.