Barrier wall the GDR at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with a warning sign Attention You are now leaving West Berlin. - Germany.

I was born on August 13, 1961. This was the day that construction of the Berlin Wall began. It was a symbol of the Cold War. It cast a shadow upon the first 28 years of my life, as prime-time news images were burned into my memory of daring escapes, and of East German citizens tragically gunned down by East German soldiers. Throughout my early years, my mother continually reminded me of the blessing of liberty which we have in America – something that must be preserved.

I also remember some dark humor about the Cold War. Khrushchev and Brezhnev were talking about allowing people to leave the USSR. Khrushchev said to Brezhnev, “What would happen if we allowed people to leave the Soviet Union?”. Brezhnev replied, “Everybody would leave and that would only leave you and me?” Khrushchev replied, “I wouldn’t stay. Would you?”

By 1989, “The Wall” came down not because of a revolution of freedom behind the iron curtain, but rather it had served its purpose – to protect communism from the influence of the ideals of freedom prevalent in West. Western governments had become as controlling and oppressive as their East German, and Soviet counterparts. The central tenets of communism were accepted by the ruling elites – redistribution of wealth, government control of the means of production, and all human aspiration directed to the common good as defined by the government. In the West, the idea of human rights and limited government was now a romantic concept of no real significance. Those of us who believed in America as a Constitutional Republic were now adequately controlled in order to prevent this “corrupting influence” from infiltrating American government. We granted government a corporate existence independent from the people.

Approximately eight years after the fall of the wall, I was an intern in surgery rounding on patients at a hospital in Milwaukee. I remember a medical student from East Germany had come to America to learn American medicine. We were rounding on a patient with pancreatic cancer who we were preparing for a Whipple procedure. His stomach outlet was obstructed leaving him severely malnourished and he needed to be fed through the veins with what was known as Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) in order to reduce his risk during the pending surgery.

A compliance nurse followed along with us on rounds, not to ensure that patients were properly cared for, but rather to ensure that we were doing only those things that insurance would reimburse for.

When we got to this patient, the nurse told us that insurance would not pay for the TPN without a “trial of diet” – we had to feed him to prove he couldn’t eat. To feed him would put him at risk for aspiration, pneumonia, and death. This left us with a dilemma. Should we lie for the good of the patient, feed him and risk his life to procure reimbursement, or be truthful and not feed him but leave him with a large unpaid medical bill? This East German medical student turned to me and said, “I am so disappointed with America.”

“How’s that?”, I replied.

“When I was growing up, we looked to the West and imagined what freedom was like on the other side of the wall. Now that the wall is down, we see that you are suffering under communism just like us. In fact, you have perfected communism. Behind the wall, we knew that we were being oppressed. Here, the system dictates how you are to be a doctor down to the finest detail and yet you don’t feel oppressed.”

The many government responses to COVID-19 have now become our “wall” – lockdowns, mask mandates, mandatory participation in human experimentation, censorship of physician speech by state licensing boards, and the deprivation of proven treatments for COVID-19 patients. Many fatalistically assume this is all a natural response to an unnatural event – something that is beyond our control.

Keeping Up with Authorized Narratives

In December of 2021, the Director of the Board of Medicine announced that 17 Iowa physicians were being investigated for “spreading COVID-19 misinformation.” This announcement only served to scare doctors from talking about COVID-19, since there was no definition about what constituted “misinformation about COVID-19.” Any communication about COVID-19 could result in the loss of a doctor’s livelihood. Dr. Humayun Chaudhry who heads the Federation of State Medical Boards summed it up, “Science does change, we recognize that … . But is incumbent upon physicians to keep up with what’s permissible, what’s approved, what’s authorized and what’s not.”

Since “misinformation about COVID-19” is not even defined, the announcement is equivalent to announcing that physicians who speak about COVID-19 risk being investigated – an event that can prove ruinous to any competent doctor’s career. This action on the part of the Boards of Medicine is called “prior restraint” in the legal vernacular. Normally, speech can only be restricted after the fact, for example, in cases of defamation, incitement, or perjury. When the government threatens speech in advance, especially when prohibited speech is ill defined, this causes speech to be chilled and is the most primitive type of censorship. This was reminiscent of the times of stamp taxes.

In Colonial times and before, the king required stamps on all published works (not postage stamps). It was a form of pre-authorization for publication. If the king did not like the content, a stamp would not be issued. If one published the work anyway, they would be found guilty of publication without a stamp and punished severely. In many respects, this was far more civil than the Iowa Board of Medicine’s actions today, since one could know in advance what speech would draw fire from the king. In contrast, the Board merely warns physicians that they may lose their livelihood by speaking about COVID-19. They will not say in advance whether physician speech is “misleading information” subject to disciplinary action.

Most patients who wanted an honest response from their doctors about COVID-19 felt a wall of ice – a cold exchange which, at best, reinforced the government’s narrative on COVID-19. This wall precluded patients from learning about alternate perspectives. Since the official narrative was that there was no treatment for COVID-19, COVID-19 patients were told to go home, rest, drink fluids, and if they got worse, they were to go to the hospital. If they were asked for early treatment with Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine they received the cold shoulder and many physicians acquiesced to the Board’s wishes calling Ivermectin “horse paste.” Due to the fear instilled by the Iowa Board of Medicine, doctors were not willing to share with their patients that Ivermectin is one of the most prescribed, safest, inexpensive and effective treatments consumed by millions every year worldwide.

The courts have erected a wall of their own in order to shield totalitarian agencies from the encroachment of public accountability. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Apter v. FDA. The court ruled that the FDA overstepped its authority by trying to prevent doctors from using “off-label” drugs to treat Ivermectin. However, the agency had “sovereign immunity” and could not be sued by Apter. In a settlement agreement with Apter, the FDA agreed to remove information from its Web site which was intended to prevent the use of Ivermectin.

In April of 2022, I was a presenter at the Medical Freedom Conference to a group of about 500 physicians from across America, most of whom were under investigation from their respective state medical boards and facing disciplinary action for “spreading misinformation about COVID-19.” My presentation was entitled “The Big Chill.” It was a presentation about how this witch hunt initiated by the FDA and promoted by the member boards of the Federation of State Medical Boards, was an unconstitutional attack on physicians and their protected free speech.

When the Iowa Board of Medicine threatened doctors for speaking about COVID-19, the wall went up with doctors on one side longing to speak freely and patients on the other longing to hear information about COVID-19, freely spoken by their doctors. Patients with COVID-19 were abandoned by the doctors and told that there is no treatment for COVID-19, stay at home, rest, drink fluids, and if they got worse, go to the hospital. This wall will remain until our Boards of Medicine are no longer fearful of the corrupting influence of knowledgeable and trustworthy doctors upon patients, or the public.

Disclaimer: The preceding article is a piece of public information the content of which the author has not shared with the author’s patients and does not contain any medical opinion. It is not intended to contain any information at all about COVID-19. The opinions expressed herein are merely for the entertainment of the reader. Any similarity between the former East German government and state or federal government agencies' recent public health response to COVID-19 is coincidental and should not be regarded as criticism of said agencies' actions.


Dr. David Hartsuch is an Emergency Medicine physician with more than 20 years of practice. He can be reached for comment at (563)508-9266.

Support the River Cities' Reader

Get 12 Reader issues mailed monthly for $48/year.

Old School Subscription for Your Support

Get the printed Reader edition mailed to you (or anyone you want) first-class for 12 months for $48.
$24 goes to postage and handling, $24 goes to keeping the doors open!

Click this link to Old School Subscribe now.

Help Keep the Reader Alive and Free Since '93!


"We're the River Cities' Reader, and we've kept the Quad Cities' only independently owned newspaper alive and free since 1993.

So please help the Reader keep going with your one-time, monthly, or annual support. With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted, and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage." - Todd McGreevy, Publisher