Doctors depart Dell Children’s adolescent medicine clinic amid state probe over gender-affirming care

It is not clear if the doctors who previously staffed the clinic quit or were fired.

By Sarah AschMay 16, 2023 11:40 am, ,

Over the past 24 to 36 hours, news has circulated that doctors staffing the adolescent medicine clinic at one of the top-ranked child care hospitals in Texas, Dell Children’s Medical Center, are leaving.

Exactly who’s leaving and precisely why is far less clear. But there does seem to be a correlation, if not a direct connection, between this and an investigation recently announced by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton looking into whether gender-affirming care procedures at Dell Children’s were unlawfully performed on minors.

The apparent shakeup also comes as the Texas House of Representatives considers Senate Bill 14, which would outlaw gender-affirming care, such as surgery and hormone blockers, for patients under 18 years old.

Nicole Villalpando, who covers health care at the Austin American-Statesman, said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy — both Republicans — are also involved.

“We found that Ted Cruz, our senator, and Chip Roy had sent a letter on April 25 to Dell Children’s, to the medical school and to Ascension, Texas, which owns Dell Children’s, asking for records and names of families that were receiving gender-affirming care,” Villalpando said. “So through that process, through the investigation, suddenly the doctors are not there anymore. The families, some of them have received calls and just been told either that they need to get care somewhere else and they’re given a list of places, or they’re told we don’t have any doctors right now, but we’ll let you know later on when we do have doctors.”

» MORE: Trans kids, families and advocates feel unsafe as Texas moves to ban gender-affirming care

According to the letter Cruz and Roy sent to the hospital, the two politicians got involved after a social worker who was working with Project Veritas reported kids as young as 8 were receiving gender-affirming care at the clinic. Project Veritas, a right-wing investigative group that uses undercover cameras to try and discredit mainstream media outlets and progressive groups, has been accused of editing their surreptitiously obtained video footage to create false narratives.

Villalpando said it is not clear exactly what happened with the doctors who staffed the clinic before.

“Officially, Dell Children’s will tell you that the doctors are departing. They will not tell you what that means,” she said. “We tried to reach out to the doctors, and they did not respond.”

The clinic remains open, and Dell Children’s has said that other doctors will come in and work with patients in the clinic. But currently, Villalpando said, all the appointments have been cleared off the books.

“Gender-affirming care was such a small part of what they were doing, if they were doing it at all. But any child who had problems with puberty or hormones or eating disorders or follow-up to cancer care, all of those people were seen at the clinic,” she said. “So right now we have people who have eating disorders who don’t have any treatment. We have people who are taking hormones because their bodies do not naturally produce hormones, and they were having problems with puberty, who do not have a doctor.”

This change-up has also affected the hospital’s residency program, Villalpando said.

“You have residents who need to be supervised by an adolescent physician, someone who is board trained and certified in adolescent medicine, who now don’t have somebody who’s supervising them,” she said.

Disclaimer: Dell Children’s is a sponsor of the Texas Standard’s home station, KUT. Sponsors have no influence over the Standard’s editorial content.

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