NC hospital chair resigns after posting about stay-at-home ‘tyranny’ and COVID-19 conspiracy

NC hospital chair resigns after posting about stay-at-home ‘tyranny’ and COVID-19 conspiracy
Donnie Loftis, chairman of CaroMont Health’s board and former Gaston County commissioners chairman. (Source: CaroMont Health via The Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Hannah Smoot/The Charlotte Observer) - CaroMont Health board of directors chairman Donnie Loftis has resigned from his position after eight years.

His resignation comes four days after The Charlotte Observer reported he’d shared on his Facebook posts calling stay-at-home orders “tyranny” and messages about COVID-19 conspiracies. Loftis’ public posts came as the hospital system urged people to stay home to protect healthcare workers and one of CaroMont’s own nurses was hospitalized in critical condition with COVID-19.

CaroMont previously said board members’ personal opinions and beliefs “are not statements made on the behalf of CaroMont Health nor an indication of the health system’s position on any topic, situation or circumstance.”

CaroMont board members were told of Loftis’ resignation Monday, according to CaroMont spokeswoman Meghan Berney. Loftis was not paid by the Gaston County health system, the Observer previously reported. He previously served as a Gaston County commissioner.

Board vice chairman David Payseur will step in as acting chairman, according to CaroMont.

“We extend our most sincere appreciation to Mr. Loftis for his eight years of loyal service to CaroMont Health,” the health system said in a statement Tuesday. “His significant contributions have helped position the health system to grow and thrive – now and well into the future.”

CaroMont’s own employees have been hit by COVID-19. In late April, The Gaston Gazette reported that a 23-year-old CaroMont nurse spent much of April hospitalized with coronavirus.

CaroMont shared a few words from Loftis in its statement on his resignation.

“It has been a great honor to serve CaroMont Health,” Loftis said in the statement. “The more than 4,000 doctors, providers, nurses, clinicians and health care professionals are truly among the best in the country. Now and always, I remain a devoted advocate and staunch supporter of the health system.”

On his personal Facebook page, Loftis had shared conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and posted in support of anti-abortion protesters who violated the stay-at-home order. Loftis made his Facebook page private after The Observer asked CaroMont about his posts.

Gaston County issued a stay-at-home order on March 26. Loftis appeared to support the county order at first, posting: “Folks stay home … we’re not on vacation. We’re fighting a killer virus.”

But in April Loftis shared a picture of a pie chart that reads: “What I worry about. COVID-19: 0.5, Loss of my rights: 99.5. You should be worried also.”