She Got the Best Covid Care the Government Allowed. She Is Among Thousands Who Died. Her Husband Is Suing.
Scott Mantel goes to court in what may be a landmark case for those who died when hospitals took government bonus money to give patients dangerous remdesivir while denying life-saving ivermectin.
When Covid-19 kicked in, so did a government plan.
The federal government would set the rules. Sick patients would hydrate and rest, going to hospitals only when symptoms worsened. Doctors who tried to treat with trusted medications—outpatient or in—would end up risking their licenses. For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—lacking any statutory authority—would usurp the judgment of physicians.
That plan was in full sway when Deborah Bucko, short of breath and feverish from Covid, sought help on February 28, 2021, at a southern New York emergency room.
She died seventy-seven days later, at age 52, after a brutal battle with both a virus and the hospital that took her in.
Now a lawsuit filed by her husband, Scott Mantel, asserts that Mount Sinai Nassau South Hospital blocked potentially life-saving treatment and bears responsibility for Bucko’s “wrongful death.” The case, seeking damages, may be the first of its kind in the nation.
At the center of Scott Mantel’s fight is ivermectin, an FDA-approved drug that showed promise in treating Covid, keeping people out of hospitals, and—the likely reason it was sidelined—thwarting the government’s plan for mass vaccination with an experimental mRNA technology. There would be no need for that approach if a cheap, safe, FDA-approved drug could successfully treat Covid.
Three years in, the battle to stop ivermectin has recently been called out in unheralded court rulings. One decision supported doctors who said the FDA had no right to effectively bar the use of ivermectin, which the agency wrongly portrayed as harmful and used only for livestock.
“FDA is not a physician,” the ruling said. “Nothing [in law] authorizes FDA to issue medical advice or recommendations.”
In another case, an appeals court said the White House “coerced,” commandeered, and intimidated social media platforms to go along with its Covid policies, likely in violation of the First Amendment. (That explains a lot, including my own suspension from Twitter on March 1, 2022, for a tweet that said, “Pharma is afraid of ivermectin. It should be.”)
Those cases, which are pending, demonstrate how Covid was micromanaged and suggest why people like Deborah Bucko needlessly died. In Bucko’s case, twice a court order was needed to force Mount Sinai to administer ivermectin, delaying urgent treatment by thirteen and eight days each. Twice Bucko was cut off after five days of treatment with ivermectin, even though she had improved significantly the first time, and the second round was prescribed for up to thirty-five days, records show.
She died awaiting a third court hearing.
This is her story, but it isn’t the only one. Deborah Bucko died for want of a safe, effective drug when nothing else worked. Her hospital bill was nearly two million dollars. It included five days of a brand-new drug called remdesivir that Bucko was convinced under objection to take, her records show. Remdesivir has been linked to 721 deaths in an international drug monitoring database. Ivermectin—inexpensive and off-patent—has been linked to just twenty-six deaths in decades of use.
‘Out of Bullets’
As he left his wife of fourteen years at Mount Sinai that fateful day, Mantel, who was also infected with Covid, had an awful thought. Who would care for the children, 18 and 15, if he was hospitalized? That’s when he tracked down Dr. Zev Zelenko, among the first doctors to treat early and aggressively, and a day later took hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, a steroid, and an antibiotic.
Mantel was “95 percent better” hours later, he said. Mantel told this story several times to various hospital doctors, including Dr. Robert Clark, his wife’s consulting infectious disease physician, by way of suggesting a possible treatment option. “How could I not?” he told me.
Then, a month into Bucko’s hospitalization, Mantel made the case for real. Hospital protocols had not worked. Clark said he was “all out of bullets,” according to the lawsuit. Asked Mantel: “What are we going to do differently?”
Ivermectin, he had found, had been shown effective in almost all of fifty-two reported trials at that time, including in late-stage patients. The scientists who discovered it had won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2015 for saving millions from parasitic disease, putting ivermectin on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines. A review of 350 science and medical reports found “severe adverse events are unequivocally extremely rare.”
Clark agreed on April 7, 2021, to Mantel’s request, prescribing ivermectin for Bucko’s “end stage covid-19.” The hospital administration immediately blocked the order. In its fruitless effort to stop a judge from allowing the drug, Mount Sinai said Clark had merely capitulated to “the family’s desperate and increasingly vocal demands” for ivermectin out of fear of “legal consequences.”
Mantel called that contention “fake.” Clark “wanted to use ivermectin,” he told me. In a brief phone conversation, I told Clark of the hospital’s and Mantel’s different takes. “I have nothing to say about this,” he said twice.
Bucko got her first round of ivermectin from April 20 to 24, 2021, and Mantel noticed the difference. Before this, she had been “maxed out” on oxygen and, nurses told him, was on many blood pressure medications to stay stable.
“All of a sudden her oxygen requirements came way down,” he said. “All of a sudden she didn’t need blood pressure medication.” She even got a tracheotomy around May 1 as a first step toward weaning her off the ventilator, he said. The progress was fleeting, however.
Every tragedy has heroes. For Mantel, Zev Zelenko, with his early treatment armament, was the first. Then came attorney Ralph Lorigo, who filed motions, hounded court clerks, and pulled together shoestring Zoom hearings on Bucko’s behalf. The third was Dr. Pierre Kory, a critical care doctor at the pinnacle of his profession before Covid who, unwilling to ignore evidence showing ivermectin worked, endured media vilification, lost well-paying jobs, and, moreover, was unwelcome in ICUs where he had been a pioneer. (Note: I have co-authored articles with Dr. Kory.)
In an April 29 affidavit, Kory made the case, based on the considerable science of ivermectin and Bucko’s records, that she should be treated with the drug “until the patient achieves a full recovery.” Having seen significant respiratory and cardiovascular improvement and lower drug and oxygen demands after her first course, he wrote, withholding ivermectin would “result in grievous harm to the patient.”
Citing Kory’s findings, the New York State Supreme Court on May 4, 2021, again ordered ivermectin. Then something strange happened. Instead of giving Bucko “60 mg, NasoGastric Tube, daily, Stop Date 31-May-2021,” according to a note in her chart, the hospital stopped the drug on May 9. The lawsuit contends that the prescription was changed after the court’s order and that, “upon information and belief,” Dr. Clark was threatened with revocation of his privileges if he prescribed more ivermectin.
Bucko died a week later, on May 16.
I asked the hospital to respond to the lawsuit’s allegations. “My client is extremely proud of its efforts to combat COVID-19,” an emailed statement read. “Those efforts saved countless lives and contributed to the development of multiple effective treatments. We vigorously contest the claims in this lawsuit and look forward to fully briefing the issue in court.”
Money in Covid
Mount Sinai hospital received a lot of money for Deborah Bucko’s care. Her insurance company paid $439,542—the maximum her plan covered—on a bill of $1,920,131. That considerable fee included five days of remdesivir, for which the World Health Organization still says there is “currently no evidence” to support inpatient use.
Mantel and his wife did not want remdesivir. According to her medical record, an “agitated” Bucko “refused” the drug on March 1, 2021, “stating a family friend who is a doctor”—Dr. Zelenko, Mantel said—“told her not to take it.” Scott Mantel said he was given another choice instead. “If you want something other than remdesivir,” he recalled a doctor saying, “you’re going to have to check out and go somewhere else.” They agreed to the drug.
Why would hospitals reject ivermectin while pushing remdesivir, which in three years has thirty-fold the number of use-associated deaths as ivermectin has had in three decades—and with far less evidence it works? (For context, compare the twenty-six ivermectin deaths in WHO’s global database to 4,111 for acetaminophen.)
The answer, in all likelihood, is money. Hospitals were told: Use a handful of new, high-priced, on-patent drugs, and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will throw in a “20% add-on payment” under a program to “mitigate potential financial disincentives” to using new Covid therapeutics.
Deborah Bucko’s record shows she received five daily doses of “unclassified drug,” remdesivir, which was then under emergency use authorization. The hospital charged $12,354, of which her insurer paid $6,175. The remdesivir kickback, however, applies to an approved 65 percent of the total allowable cost of care, which is set in government reimbursement tables.
As a CMS spokesman wrote in an email to me: “The adjustment was on the total cost of the case, not the drug.”
It isn’t clear just how much extra money Mount Sinai got for giving Bucko remdesivir. I asked CMS how to make such a calculation based on a hospital bill and insurance payment; a spokesman did not get back in time for this article.
Ultimately, remdesivir did not save Deborah Bucko, just as it failed to reduce deaths in the Pfizer study upon which, in April 2020, it was declared the Covid “standard of care” by U.S. Covid czar Anthony Fauci.
In order to get doctors in line, Fauci and the FDA needed to make examples of renegades. Meryl Nass, a Maine doctor of internal medicine and published expert on an anthrax outbreak and vaccine, became a “poster child”—her words—of what doctors dare not do.
In January 2022, Nass’s license was suspended without a hearing on a litany of allegations. The complaint said she prescribed ivermectin, “which is not indicated for treatment of COVID;” gave the drug to patients described as unvaccinated; and prescribed hydroxychloroquine to a patient with Covid who she said had Lyme disease—“the only way to get a potentially life-saving drug for my patient.” Both drugs are FDA-approved; it is legal and common to prescribe off-label, namely, to use a drug for other than its approved purpose.
What ultimately sealed Nass’s fate—leading to a process that cost $500,000 in legal bills so far—were statements she made in an interview that was posted online. In it, Nass hit on many well-established flaws of Covid vaccines: They can cause myocarditis; more doses mean more adverse effects; vaccine immunity is “weak and short-lived;” and children get “the least benefit.”
Nass also commented on government powers and motives that, last I checked, was protected speech under the First Amendment. Nonetheless, based on having spread “misinformation”—charges which were later dropped—and posing a potential danger to patients, Nass was further shamed. She was ordered to undergo neuropsychological evaluation of potential “mental illness, alcohol intemperance” and so on.
From coast to coast, Meryl Nass became an object lesson in stepping outside government-sanctioned Covid care.
“I was trashed in the media,” she told me. “It turned some of my patients against me. I’m sure it ruined my reputation.”
None of the articles, from Maine Public Radio to Newsweek to the Miami Herald, mentioned her pedigree in anthrax research or her multiple Congressional testimonies. In the end, it was much ado about little; no complaints were filed by patients, and no one was hurt. She got two years’ probation and a course in professional ethics. Nass is suing the licensing board as having improperly suspended her in the first place.
Nass doesn’t take all this personally. “They needed to scare the other doctors,” she said. “If you don’t have the doctors behind you, this whole plan can’t proceed.”
Indeed, they got the doctors behind them. One of those was Dr. Aaron Glatt, who as chair of medicine at Mount Sinai Nassau South stood between Deborah Bucko and ivermectin.
Throughout 2021, Ralph Lorigo, a Western New York attorney, represented Bucko and about 200 other hospitalized Covid patients in their life-and-death struggles for ivermectin. She was his fifth case; the first four patients—68 years old (two), 80, and 81—survived after receiving ivermectin. Hospitals fought him fiercely, with Glatt epitomizing a fraudulent government campaign against a safe drug.
In an affidavit on April 27, 2021, Glatt’s denial of the drug for Bucko hinged on this: Ivermectin “is not an indicated treatment;” it is unsupported by professional societies and government agencies, and it is “potentially a harmful” treatment. His argument was rejected by the judge, but that scary-drug dogma prevailed then and still does.
To support his case against ivermectin, Glatt pointed to an FDA webpage. The drug’s stellar record of safety aside, the page said that ivermectin could be “highly dangerous” when used for Covid, even inducing seizure, coma, and death. Indeed, these are sometimes side-effects of many pharmaceuticals, as evening news ads attest. Also compare that to the more than 18,000 post-Covid vaccine deaths reported domestically by doctors, nurses, and others to the CDC-FDA Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).
In a December 2021 article, Linda Bonvie and I dissected the FDA’s ivermectin myth, reporting that the agency’s claim of “multiple” hospitalizations from animal ivermectin that made worldwide frightening headlines referred to four cases.
Similarly, we found that viral media reports of overwhelmed poison control centers started with four calls to a Mississippi hotline—2 percent of total calls, not 70 percent as widely reported. The reports in turn led to a national health alert, also based on slim evidence of ivermectin harm. Shamefully, the FDA webpage, dated December 10, 2021, and the August 26, 2021, health alert remain at the fingertips of any internet search.
I asked Meryl Nass how many people might have been saved if not for what she called “a hidden hand with many fingers” that forbade outpatient Covid treatment.
Numbers vary, she said, but they hover in the high six figures. Maybe 700,000, she said, and more if people had been treated early with a cocktail of ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, zinc, Vitamin D, steroids, and other compounds.
Our Health, Their Hands
Steven M. Warshawsky, Mantel’s attorney, is a civil rights specialist who has represented employees seeking exemptions from vaccine mandates. He hopes that Mantel v. Mount Sinai South Nassau will be a model for future litigation.
The case doesn’t hinge on whether ivermectin would have certainly cured Bucko, but rather her “loss of chance,” Warshawsky said. “Where a failure to treat is alleged, the plaintiff simply must show,” he said quoting case law, “that ‘it was probable that some diminution in the chance of survival had occurred.’”
“Countless numbers of people, like Deborah, suffered and even died for being denied this life-saving medicine,” he told me. “We need to hold the doctors and hospitals accountable, because they ultimately are the ones in whose hands we place our health and lives.”
Mantel’s lawsuit begins:
“Plaintiff Scott D. Mantel’s wife, Deborah Bucko, died on May 16, 2021, of complications of severe COVID-19 illness, while in the custody and care of Defendant South Nassau Communities Hospital d/b/a Mount Sinai South Nassau, which repeatedly interfered with the doctor-patient relationship between Ms. Bucko and the infectious disease attending physician overseeing her treatment, specifically, by knowingly and deliberately impeding the doctor’s orders to treat Ms. Bucko with the potentially life-saving medication ivermectin, thereby depriving Ms. Bucko of a substantial chance of recovery and cure.”
Said Mantel: “I truly believe that had the hospital given Debbie IVM continuously from the very first day it was prescribed, I know she would be with us.”
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