Anticircumcision groups known as "intactivists" have waged an online war with Joe DiMaggio's Children's Hospital over a supposed scheduled circumcision of 4-year-old Chase Hironimus this week. The groups have inundated the hospital's Facebook page, and the hacktivist group known as Anonymous is supposedly threatening to hack the hospital.
Meanwhile, an anonymous source who claims to work for the hospital tells New Times that hospital staffers have been warned not to speak of Chase or the supposed procedure in any way and that the topic in general should be avoided, be it at work or elsewhere. The source says that they don't know if these orders came directly from hospital administrators or from supervisors working the floor but that word began to spread among staffers Tuesday morning. The source says there's genuine fear among staffers of saying anything in public or private regarding Chase, for fear of losing their jobs.
In an email exchange with the director of corporate communications for Memorial Healthcare System and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Karting Baldwin tells New Times that any reports of staffers being warned not to speak about Chase are "not true."
Baldwin also told New Times that Chase "is not a patient at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital or any Memorial Healthcare System facility." Baldwin also said the child is not a patient of Dr. Gary Birken, the pediatric surgeon who is rumored to be performing the procedure.
When asked if this meant that activists were given erroneous information about Chase being scheduled to meet with Birken, Baldwin told New Times, "I don’t know. The hospital never released any information."
Yet a document sent to New Times by the anonymous source apparently shows that Chase is a patient at Joe DiMaggio's. The document, which cannot be verified but appears to be printed on hospital letterhead, shows Chase's apparent surgical history, weight, height and other medical information.
"This also shows that Ms. Baldwin was indeed lying to you when she said Chase is not a patient," the anonymous source says via email. "But we all knew that."
On Tuesday, Joe DiMaggio's Children's Hospital took to Facebook to address the activists' concerns, saying that the hospital recognizes that "this is an emotionally charged topic and case, evident by the number of posts to this page from people in and outside our community."
On Wednesday, however, the hospital posted the same statement Baldwin gave New Times, that says, "We recognize that protestors have chosen social media to express very strong opinions, and we have managed our social channels accordingly by responding where appropriate and proactively engaging with our online community." The statement ends with the denial that Chase is a patient there.
On Thursday, intactivists launched a Facebook page titled Joe DiMaggio's Hospital Don't Cut Chase, where there are photos from the protest being posted, as well as up-to-date reports on the entire situation. Included in one of the posts is a report that the hospital removed the ability to rate Joe DiMaggio's on Facebook, in response to being inundated with negative ratings from the activists.
And now, it seems that Anonymous may have gotten in on threatening Joe DiMaggio's:
"The hive has been stirred," one intactivist who also wishes for anonymity tells New Times, regarding Anonymous getting involved. "I'm pretty sure whatever they do will pale in the comparison to the annoyance that intactivists have been."
The Don't Cut Chase Facebook page also posted an alleged phone call between a hospital employee and an activist where the employee sarcastically asks the caller if her husband is circumcised. When the caller says he is, the employee asks if she wants to divorce him.
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According to the Facebook post, the phone number came directly from Birken's office.
The entire brouhaha began earlier this week when South Florida Intactivists United said they learned that Chase was scheduled to be circumcised on Thursday by Dr. Birken.
Meanwhile, John Trainer, a Jacksonville-based doctor who has been following the Hironimus case, has threatened to file a complaint to the state Department of Health against Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital if Chase is circumcised there.