ER doctor temporarily loses custody of child during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

The Florida doctor said a judge ruled she can't see her 4-year-old daughter because of the doctor's close proximity to the virus

MIAMI (CNN Newsource) – A Florida doctor on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily lost shared custody of her 4-year-old daughter because of her proximity to the virus at work.

The child’s father filed an emergency order and a judge ruled in favor, saying, “In order to protect the best interests of the minor child…this court temporarily suspends the former wife’s timesharing…This suspension is solely related to the outbreak of COVID-19.”

Dr. Theresa Greene, an emergency medicine physician in Miami, is the mother at the center of all of this. She’s appealing the judge’s order, calling it discriminatory.

“If I was married and I’d be given the opportunity to go home to my child, no one could tell me that I shouldn’t do that,” Greene said. “My brother works as an engineer and he’s building the tent hospitals up in New York, and he gets to come home to his two kids. No one’s questioning that decision.”

She said there is good evidence that shows children are minimally affected by the coronavirus and health care workers who use proper precautions are not at an increased risk than the general population for contracting the virus.

“So I think it’s discriminatory for a judge to tell me that I can’t come home to my child.”

Greene said her daughter doesn’t understand what’s going on.

“I really worry about the toll that’s going to take on her. I am by no means an expert in children’s mental health, but I’ve been reading studies that show that children suffer significant psychological damage from separations such as these.”

She thinks the decision was rash and wished the judge would’ve at least heard the evidence.

The attorney for Greene’s ex-husband released the following statement:

“Mr. Greene and I have the utmost respect for Dr. Greene’s commitment to her critical work during the pandemic…The Greenes’ temporary timesharing dispute was presented before the court…and a decision was reached based upon your interests and safety of a minor child, limited to the temporary circumstances presented by COVID-19…Pursuant to Mr. Greene’s request and as ordered by the court, Dr. Greene is to be provided future make-up timesharing for each day missed…and daily video communication with the child. We will continue to pursue ways to resolve this delicate situation and believe that a result can be achieved safely and fairly.”

Greene said she was already doing everything in her power to keep her child safe and that won’t change.

“We have adequate PPE at my hospital and I’ve been seeing coronavirus patients since approximately March 12 and maybe even, unknowingly, before that,” she said. “We were very careful. I’ve been practicing medicine or training in medicine for 18 years now. I know what I’m doing. This isn’t the first communicable disease that I’ve encountered.”

She said when she comes home from work, she strips down in the carport and takes a shower.

“I’ve actually gone above and beyond to protect myself and my child,” Greene said. “The fact of the matter is that my daughter is not usually here when I’m working. We have our schedule set up so that I work on the days that I don’t have her. So she won’t be exposed in that way and I hope to not contract the virus because of the precautions I’m taking in respect to her.”

Greene said she feels like she’s being forced to choose between her child and her job.

She said the judge didn’t give an end date, but she hopes the decision is overturned.

“I really have no certainty there, and the end of the pandemic? I mean, no one can say when that will be.”

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