City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeannette Kowalik has taken a leave of absence to have elective knee surgery, multiple sources confirmed to "The Dan O'Donnell Show" while raising concerns about her commitment to fighting the city's Coronavirus outbreak as well as her apparent hypocrisy regarding frequent admonitions to help "flatten the curve."
News/Talk 1130 WISN's Mark Belling reported on Thursday afternoon that Kowalik was taking a leave of absence in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Milwaukee far harder than any other city in Wisconsin.
According to an automated email response from Kowalik, she is on leave from Tuesday, May 5th until Monday, May 17th. "The Dan O'Donnell Show" sent the following message:
"As Dr. Kowalik has noted on several media occasions in the past, she has autoimmune conditions," Kowalik's Chief of Staff, Lilliann Paine said in an email response.
"She has been in pain over the last year and was scheduled for surgery in March but she rescheduled it due to COVID. We understand her decision to have surgery during the COVID response was ultimately necessary for her health. As hospitals are going online with additional safety precautions and PPE, she was able to reschedule the procedure last week.
"Dr. Kowalik is healing up and is thankful for her leadership team at the health department who are covering for her while she is away. She is scheduled to return on Monday, May 18th and we hope that she continues to improve and respect her privacy while she heals up."
Kowalik said during a news conference earlier this month that she is a member of the "invisible disabilities" community, but did not go into details. According to the Invisible Disabilities Association,"an invisible disability is a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities."
Hospital overcrowding has been of tantamount concern over the past two months as medical professionals have attempted to keep beds and equipment free to treat Coronavirus patients. Hospitals, however, never saw the overwhelming crush that was initially feared.
One source told "The Dan O'Donnell Show" that Kowalik's choice sends the wrong message about Milwaukee's response to the Coronavirus epidemic.
"She's not leading when the city needs her to lead," the source said. "And she is a complete hypocrite for telling everyone else to help 'flatten the curve' and then going and getting an elective procedure that everyone else is supposed to avoid. It's just ridiculous."