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Awake Health proprietor Dr. Anna Elperin was the target of a monthslong undercover investigation by a Seattle-area news organization.

Karl Holappa/ Daily Record | Daily Record

An Ellensburg doctor has been alleged of writing COVID-19 vaccine and mask exemptions for patients with no questions asked, and a Seattle television news crew decided to launch a monthlong undercover investigation into the practice.

KING 5 News aired the results of their investigation into Awake Health’s Dr. Anna Elperin Monday night, where they revealed they visited the office four separate times to obtain a combination of vaccine and mask exemptions. Three out of four times, their requests were granted with no questions asked about any underlying medical exemptions that would qualify the patient for an exemption. In the case where the patient was asked if they did have a condition that would qualify them, an exemption was written for them after they admitted they did not have any existing medical issues.

According to the KING 5 report, the four reporters who went undercover during the four-month investigation were charged between $150 and $200 for their visit. Reporters for the outlet also interviewed three former Awake Health employees that said they witnessed the doctor sign hundreds of the exemption forms without asking the patients any questions about their health or conducting any medical exams.

“What you just described is an ‘exemption mill,’” said Dr. Gabriel Bosslet, an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and one of three national medical ethics experts consulted for the KING 5 story said in their report. “You hand over money, I ask no questions and give you a piece of paper that satisfies the state that you have an exemption.”

When confronted by the news outlet on Nov. 12, Elperin said that the process of granting an exemption is a process individual to each patient and consists of the doctor reviewing the patient’s medical history and current health conditions prior to providing an exemption.

“I don’t do cookbook medicine,” Elperin said to KING 5 reporters. “When patients come in and they would like to be evaluated for a COVID vaccine exemption, we sit down and we talk and we come up with a treatment plan.”

When contacted via email three days after the Nov. 12 interview, Elperin refused to answer follow up questions, instead providing a rather short response to KING 5 reporters.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Elperin said in the email to the outlet. “You are a disgrace to the profession of investigative journalism, and to the values of the United States of America.”

LOCAL RESPONSE

According to Kittitas Valley Healthcare Chief Public Relations Officer Michele Wurl, Dr. Elperin does not have privileges to practice at KVH and has no affiliation with their healthcare system.

According to a release from the Kittitas County Public Health Department, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) credentials medical providers and therefore regulates those providers.

“If an individual has a complaint against a medical provider, that information goes directly to DOH as the regulating authority,” the release said. “DOH has a website with additional information about filing official complaints at www.doh.wa.gov. DOH also provides an online credential search that includes credential status and enforcement action status of medical providers in Washington State.”

The release added that neither DOH nor the Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) provide COVID-19 vaccine exemptions or exemption forms. On COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions via DOH, the release said more information is provided under how can I get an exemption from the vaccine mandate, which directs individuals to contact the employer or college/university for more information.

Washington State Department of Health Public Information Officer Katie Pope said although Elperin’s license is still active, she could not comment on the investigation process as it is ongoing.

“We are still taking a look at the complaints and following the disciplinary process,” she said. “The statement of charges has not yet been filed in the cases, and the board is considering all its legal options at this time.”

When contacted for comment about the KING 5 investigation, Elperin said she felt misled by the intent of reporters from that organization, as well as alleging clips from the reporters who went undercover were edited to appear misleading.

“I was 100% misled by Ingalls and his team,” she said. “They cut out parts of the interview to make them fit their agenda they came in with.”

Elperin said she stands by her opinion that if a person does not wish to receive a vaccine, they should not lose their job over the matter.

“This is going back to some basic human rights and freedoms of choice,” she said. “If you don’t want to get a vaccine, in an ideal world I wouldn’t have to be involved at all. A lot of people whose jobs are on the line, they don’t have any voices who are speaking for them.”

After seeing what she said are side effects and deaths from those who receive the vaccine, Elperin said she wants to be the voice of advocacy for those who need it in the community.

According to the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “More than 442 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through November 15, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 9,810 reports of death (0.0022%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”

When asked about the ongoing investigation into complaints filed with the Department of Health, Elperin said she is not concerned about the way the process will play out.

“I’m not doing anything illegal, other than exercising my medical decision making ability to help patients make the decision that fits their lifestyle and their health best,” she said.