An emergency room doctor in Miami, Florida, has temporarily lost custody of her 4-year-old daughter while she treats patients during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Theresa Greene said she was appealing the emergency order that granted her ex-husband full custody of their daughter.
“I think it’s not fair, it’s cruel to ask me to choose between my child and the oath I took as a physician,” Greene said. “I won’t abandon my team at work or the patients who will increasingly look to me to save their lives in the coming weeks, but it’s torture.”
Greene and her ex-husband have been divorced for almost two years and have split time with their daughter evenly.
Last week, Circuit Court Judge Bernard Shapiro ruled that the child should stay with her father, Eric Greene, to limit the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
“The Court does not enter this Order lightly but given the pandemic in Florida and the recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Court finds in order to insulate and protect the best interests and health of the minor child, this Order must be entered on a temporary basis,” the judge wrote in the court ruling.
Theresa Greene said she felt the order discriminated against her as a divorced parent.
“If I was married I’d be given the opportunity to go home to my child, no one could tell me I shouldn’t do that,” she said.
Theresa Greene said she’s been able to wear full PPE while treating patients and that she’s done everything she can to avoid contracting the disease. She said her daughter generally stays with her ex-husband when she works.
“Yes it is severe and there is danger, and we’re being very careful,” she said. “We use every thing we can. I’ve actually worn equipment above and beyond to protect myself and my child.”
In a statement, Eric Greene’s attorney Paul Leinoff said that “Mr. Greene and I have the upmost respect for Dr. Greene’s commitment to her critical work during this pandemic.”
“We recognize and genuinely appreciate the sacrifices that she and all healthcare workers are all currently making to save lives and prevent further illness in Florida and around the world. The Greenes’ temporary timesharing dispute was presented before the Court based upon the specific facts of this individual family and a decision was reached based upon the best interests and safety of a minor child, limited to the temporary circumstances presented by COVID-19. The Court’s ruling was not intended to serve as a blanket rule, nor should it. Pursuant to Mr. Greene’s request and as ordered by the Court, Dr. Greene is to be provided future make-up timesharing for each day missed during this challenging time and daily video communication with the child. We will continue to pursue ways to resolve this delicate situation and believe that a result can be achieved safely and fairly,” Leinoff wrote.
Theresa Greene said that her daughter doesn’t understand what’s going on, but she knows that her mom is sad.
“I want her when she grows up to be proud of me by abiding to the oath that I took when I went into medicine, but I also know that she needs me now,” she said.
Theresa Greene said she doesn’t know when she’ll get to see her daughter again, because there’s no way to know when the pandemic will be over.