White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insisted Friday that President Biden wasn’t trying to help a friend’s significant other get preferential treatment when he called a Pennsylvania hospital to ask why the in-distress woman was waiting so long in the emergency room to be treated.
“That certainly was not his intention. He was not trying to do that. He was checking in on a friend,” Psaki told Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy, who had asked: “How often does President Biden call around trying to help his friends cut the line?”
Biden claimed during remarks pushing vaccine mandates in Illinois Thursday that he had spent the previous night on the phone with a receiving desk nurse at the unidentified hospital after a friend told the president that his partner “was having trouble breathing, had a high fever, and could not really catch her breath.
“And they got her into the hospital, but the waiting room was so crowded, things were so backed up, they couldn’t even get her to be seen initially,” recounted Biden, who added, “I called the desk, the receiving nurse, and asked what the situation was … And to make a long story short, it took a while because all of the — not all — the vast majority of the emergency rooms and the docs were occupied taking care of COVID patients.”
The president insisted, “I wasn’t complaining, because they’re getting the living hell kicked out of them, by the way. Doctors and nurses, some of them are just — they’re running dry. I really mean it. They’re getting the living hell kicked out of them, and sometimes physically.”
At the White House on Friday, Doocy asked Psaki “what happened next” after the president, in his own words, “asked what the situation was.”
Psaki answered by detailing the “context” of the story, which she said was that “hospitals, frontline workers, nurses, doctors in emergency rooms are still seeing and feeling the impact of the number of people who are unvaccinated, who are filling beds and in emergency rooms, ICUs. And it is preventing, in some cases, people who have other illnesses, who may be seeking treatment, who may be fearful of a heart attack, other people who might be going to the emergency room, from getting the care that they need.
“I don’t have any other update for the privacy of this individual,” Psaki added, almost as an afterthought.
After the “cut the line” exchange, Doocy asked whether the hospital may have been having staffing issues “because they have a vaccine mandate and maybe some folks have had to leave because they didn’t want to get vaccinated?”
“I would love for you to account for me where that is the issue more so than the number of unvaccinated who are filling emergency rooms, filling ICU beds,” Psaki shot back. “That is the problem in hospitals across the country.”
In recent days, hospitals and health care systems across the US have begun firing staffers who refuse to get COVID-19 vaccines.
In New York, the deadline for hospital and nursing home staffers to get their first shot was Sept. 27. Earlier this week, The Post reported that nursing homes hoping to fill staff vacancies are being told by the state Department of Health that “we do not have any staff to offer you or any other nursing homes.”