Residents told police about a former Taste of Sicily worker touting a doctor who would prescribe Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine.
A Pennsylvania surgeon has been terminated by the hospital where she worked after allegations arose that she was prescribing unproven COVID-19 medications — efforts that were promoted by a Lebanon County resident through social media.
Dr. Edith Behr, formerly a surgeon with Phoenixville Hospital in Chester County, was terminated Thursday, according to parent company Tower Health.
“Tower Health became aware yesterday of the allegations involving Dr. Edith Behr prescribing Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19. We investigated the matter and, as a result, Dr. Behr’s employment with Tower Health Medical Group has been terminated effective immediately,” according to an email from Tower Health representatives.
Behr did not reply to requests for comment on Thursday. Her medical license was still active as of Thursday morning, according to state records.
In a video posted on Jan. 26, Christine Mason was using the Taste of Sicily Facebook page to tell viewers to “read between the lines” about “life-saving information” for people suffering from COVID-19. Mason’s mother, Silvana Drill, is the owner of the Palmyra pizza restaurant, according to a report by FOX43. Drill told FOX reporters that Mason has not worked for the restaurant since last summer, but still controls the Taste of Sicily Facebook page.
“If you guys know of anybody who is sick and who needs ‘I’ or ‘H’ … Inbox me,” Mason said. “We now have a resource, guys, we now have a resource. You don’t have to wait a month, you can get it tomorrow.”
Mason has supported people taking these drugs over COVID-19 vaccines, booster shots and COVID testing.
I’m not a doctor, OK, and I can’t come on here and say I’m going to give medical advice because … I don’t even know,” she said a in Jan. 3 video on Facebook. “I probably couldn’t get in trouble for that because on Facebook it’s all free speech. You can say really a lot about a lot. Right?”
Mason has said in recent videos that the medications were being provided by a Wyomissing surgeon she couldn’t name.
Lebanon District Attorney Pier Hess Graf told the Lebanon Daily News that various calls and emails had been made to her office about Taste of Sicily on Monday. A majority of those complaints were made anonymously.
“We reached out to law enforcement and inquired if any additional complaints were made to individual police departments,” she said in an email. “Police indicated they received complaints, and a preliminary investigation showed allegations of misconduct which potentially spanned multiple counties.”
A referral to the Attorney General’s Office had already been made by the Palmyra Borough Police Department, according to Graf. She added that her office did not take further steps in the matter.
“The AG maintains statewide jurisdiction and thus is the appropriate entity to look into multiple-county criminal allegations,” she said. “I spoke with the AG’s Office and confirmed they are aware of the matter yesterday.”
When the Lebanon Daily News asked the Attorney General’s office about the complaints, a spokesperson responded saying, “We cannot confirm or deny our office’s involvement in this matter.”
Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are government-approved drugs, but they are not approved for treating or preventing COVID-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine can be harmful and possibly fatal.
“Tower Health encourages all eligible individuals to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to practice appropriate masking and social distancing,” Tower Health representatives said in their email to the Lebanon Daily News. “These are the best options for discouraging the spread of the virus, and to minimize risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. We will continue to follow recommendations from the CDC and other health authorities in the treatment of the COVID-19 virus.”
In June 2020, Taste of Sicily received statewide attention for defying COVID-19 restrictions Gov. Tom Wolf put in place for restaurants. About 50 people rallied at the restaurant to protest the governor’s decisions. State representatives Frank Ryan and Russ Diamond, state senators Dave Arnold and Doug Mastriano, county commissioners Bob Phillips and Bill Ames, U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser and District Attorney Graf all attended.
The state temporarily suspended the restaurant’s food license and fined it for violating restrictions in place at the time. Magisterial District Judge Carl Garver found Taste of Italy not guilty, saying the business had been unconstitutionally cited.
In previous videos, Mason has mocked residents for getting COVID-19 vaccines, booster shots and wearing masks.
In a video Wednesday night, Mason and her mother said they would not respond to interview requests from the local news, saying that local news “lies” and will “twist her words.” However, they did say they would consider speaking to national publications.
“If any media reaches out to me that is from the far left, I’m not doing any interviews,” Mason said. “And that’s basically the whole Lebanon County. National, we’ll talk about that.”
Mason did respond to multiple requests for comment on Thursday.
Matthew Toth is a reporter for the Lebanon Daily News. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DAMattToth.
Kaity Assaf is a news reporter at York Daily Record, part of the USA Today Network. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @kaitythekite or by phone, 717-472-0960.