The gasps from the audience at the medical conference were audible.
Dr. Ryan Cole was 13 minutes into his presentation at the July 27 “White Coat Summit” of America’s Frontline Doctors, a physicians group whose goals include “fighting medical cancel culture and media censorship,” and where Cole disparaged the COVID-19 vaccine as a “poisonous attack,” “needle rape,” “experiment,” “fake” and “clot shot.”
“I have the tissues of a dead man on the back of my desk,” Cole told the crowd in San Antonio, Texas. “I have two more coming next week. Guess what? Just a couple days after the shot — 50-year-old healthy triathlete,” Cole snaps his fingers, signaling ostensibly that the person is dead. Then he gives another example. “One of my favorite surgeons in town that I worked with. Second shot. Mountain biking, gone.”
The second example appears to be a reference to Dr. Jon Getz, a noted surgeon in Boise who died July 8 of a heart attack while mountain biking.
But if Cole was trying to draw a correlation, his timing was about six months off. Getz was fully vaccinated in January, not just before his death, according to his life partner, Kara Cadwallader, a physician in Boise with Family Medicine Health Center and chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest/Hawaiian Islands.
“The thing that was so frustrating to me was he specifically lied about the timing of Jon’s vaccine,” Cadwallader told me in a phone interview. “That was just an outright lie to try to correlate it. … There’s a lot of other explanations for what happened to Jon than a COVID vaccination six months ago.”
Cole, a pathologist who is president of a medical laboratory in Garden City, has been nominated to be the physician on the Central District Health board. He was nominated by two Republican Ada County commissioners, Ryan Davidson and Rod Beck, and opposed by Democratic commissioner Kendra Kenyon. Cole needs a majority of county commissioners in Ada, Boise, Valley and Elmore counties to approve the nomination. In Valley County, commissioners voted 2-1 against Cole, and all three commissioners in Boise County voted in favor of Cole.
That means just one commissioner in Elmore County is needed to approve Cole’s appointment. The Elmore commissioners are scheduled to interview Cole in a special meeting on Friday.
Cadwallader said she called Cole and confronted him about his speech. She said Cole wouldn’t confirm that he was referring to Getz, but “I thought it was quite obvious who he was talking about.”
“It looks to me like you’re using his death to promote a non-factual story about COVID and to promote yourself,” Cadwallader said she told Cole. “I don’t care what you think about the COVID vaccine or anything. I’m specifically talking about you misrepresenting this in front of the public as you’re running for office, and it dishonors Jon, and it’s a lie. And I said, the least you could do if you cared about Jon, is to not lie about his manner of death. I said it’s really hurtful to people that love him and his family.”
Cole did not return a message seeking comment for this column.
The Family Medicine Health Center and Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, where Cadwallader works, is led by president and CEO Ted Epperly, who was removed from the Central District Health board and whom the commissioners are trying to replace with Cole. Cadwallader said she hasn’t spoken with Epperly about Cole or about the board.
Cadwallader said this is the second time that someone tried to connect Getz’s death with the COVID-19 vaccine. She said a woman posted on Facebook that she was sad about Getz’s death and how tragic that it was because of the vaccine.
“People go to these things, that’s what they hear, it’s a prominent physician, they believe them, because physicians are trusted leaders in our community, and for him to lie and cause harm, and for no one to present the correct narrative, I think, is just sad,” Cadwallader said. “I think it’s a disgrace to his death and his memory. They don’t have to know how he died, just that it’s not some COVID conspiracy.”
When Elmore County commissioners interview Cole on Friday, they should ask him if he used the death of a medical colleague to publicly speculate about his death, insinuating it was caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.
If so, add that to the long list of reasons to disqualify Cole from the health board.
Scott McIntosh is the opinion editor of the Idaho Statesman. You can email him at email@example.com or call him at 208-377-6202. Follow him on Twitter @ScottMcIntosh12.