A Florida man is refusing to back down after a hospital told him he could not bring his life-size cutout of President Donald Trump to dialysis treatments.
Nelson Gibson, a 59-year-old resident of Port St. Lucie, told local media that he brought the cardboard likeness of his political hero to multiple appointments at Fresenius Kidney Care. But on Tuesday, Gibson said, a social worker in the lobby informed him that it had to go.
“This is not a Trump rally,” he recalled her saying.
According to Gibson, his family is not allowed to accompany him to his treatments, which stretch multiple hours three times a week. To keep him company, his son Photoshopped an image of Gibson and Trump together on a piece of cardboard. Gibson sat next to the cutout during dialysis while wearing his shirt embroidered with Trump’s name and his custom shoes bearing the president’s face.
Nobody at the hospital complained before Gibson recently upgraded to the life-sized Trump cutout, which shows the president giving a double thumbs-up, he and his family said.
“The staff at the facility, they loved it,” his son Eric Gibson told The Washington Post. “They thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. They were taking pictures of it; they just loved the uniqueness.”
Gibson has stopped going for treatment over the dispute, and his family are vowing to fight the hospital, which they accuse of censorship.
In interviews with local and national media, they are arguing that the Trump cutout is not disruptive and provides Gibson with emotional support — a reminder that he is being watched over by Trump, who at this month’s State of the Union address touted a plan to improve kidney care.
“It just feels like bringing something from home to make you comfortable,” Gibson told WBFP.
Fresenius Kidney Care countered that it must put reasonable limits on what people bring to treatment.
“We strongly support the ability of all our patients to express their views, including bringing personal items into our clinics that provide comfort,” Robert Kossmann, chief medical officer for Fresenius Medical Care North America, said in a statement. “At the same time, we must maintain the safety and quality standards required within our clinics.”
Items cannot impede staff’s line of sight and workflow or create “infection control issues” and other hazards, he said.
Echoing outside experts, Kossmann warned that stopping regular dialysis can be life-threatening.
However, Gibson told the Post other patients are allowed to bring more disruptive items to treatment, like bubble wrap to pop.
His family said he will also refuse treatment at home or at another hospital, which they described as a downgrade.
“He believes that God had placed Trump in his path to help him along this journey,” Eric Gibson said.
He expressed hope that the president might take note of their plight.