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Surgeon Loses His Job After Defending Parents' Right to Decide Whether to Mask Kids

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

A Minnesota surgeon is out of a job weeks after speaking out against mask mandates for children before the Fergus Falls school board. 

Dr. Jeffrey Horak argued the decision to mask a child should fall to the parents. 

"Who does God put in charge of these kids? Their parents. God gave each one of these kids... to their parents and they speak for them,” he said during the meeting. “They may be wrong, they may be dumb, they may be perfect in their decisions. But it’s still their responsibility. It’s not yours. God gave it to them. Honor their wishes, either side of the fence."

Nine days later he was given the choice of being fired or resigning. He chose to be terminated. Lake Region Healthcare did not provide a reason, however. 

“Lake Region Medical Group (LRMG, the provider group that employed Horak) provided notice to Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) that Dr. Jeff Horak will no longer be available for general surgery services at LRH after Oct. 20, 2021,” said LRH CEO Kent Mattson. “We sincerely appreciate Dr. Horak’s 16 years of service to our patients and our organizations and we wish him the best as he transitions his practice from here.”

In a statement, Horak explained he couldn’t be sure of the cause for his termination, but suspected it could be that he was “empowering the parents.”

To my community, friends, colleagues, and patients.

On 10/11/2021 I was asked by the community to represent the parents and children and speak up at our community schoolboard meeting. In my speech, I suggested we give our parents the ability to choose whether or not they wanted to mask their children.

Nine days later, on 10/20/2021, I was told my views were no longer congruent with that of Lake Region Healthcare and was asked to either resign my surgical position or be terminated. I wasn’t given a reason nor was I aware of any issues or complaints about me.

We live in America where freedoms are held close. I am a man who believes individuals have the right to do their research and decide what’s best for them and their children when it comes to their health. I don’t believe governments or institutions should dictate that. It’s a position I’ve always taken. And when the science doesn’t make sense it’s hard for me to go along.

The truth is, I don’t have any idea why I was fired. My contract states that they don’t have to tell me. I knew that when I signed it 15 years ago. So I have no idea…

Was it because I didn’t always wear my mask at the hospital after the mandate for MN was lifted?

Or because I stand for freedom of healthcare choice?

Or that they thought I violated hospital policy when I shared the story of the trauma I deal with?

Or they misconstrued my statement about the monkey in Detroit who can tie knots – His name was Joe Mendi. He was a monkey in the Detroit Zoo who tied knots with his thumbs. When we did that in my surgical training in Detroit, we were compared to Jo and asked to use our fingers instead. That’s all. Truly, a monkey to me is a monkey. (We all know judgement before getting clarity from the source often ends up a disaster. No one ever asked me for clarity so I’ve no idea what they assumed.)

Or perhaps my termination is because I was empowering the parents.

I may never know.

But what I do know is this is an amazing community. Debbie and I are so grateful for the support we’ve gotten – literally hundreds of texts, phone calls and emails from our friends, colleagues, as well as my patients, whom I had the privilege to serve over these past 15 years.

It has been an honor to walk alongside you in your healthcare choices, some life threatening, some simple surgical procedures, but also some of you who chose no surgery. I thank you for entrusting your care to me. I have been humbled to serve you.

I feel blessed to live among you, work, and worship with you.

As the hospital release said, I will no longer be available to serve you. Please know this was not my choice. And I do believe our differing opinions and agendas caused a problem.

It seems a shame that we the people are no longer able to use our 1st Amendment right and speak our thoughts, desires and wishes.

Thank you again for the privilege to serve you.

Debbie and I are evaluating our next steps. We know God wins and we will be led by Him.


Dr. Jeffery A Horak, MD

Earlier this week, community members gathered across from Lake Region Healthcare to show their support for Horak.

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