Dr. Bartlett and his comedian sister, Laura Bartlett, top our list of local heroes.
They say all it takes to go from “conspiracy theorist” to reality is about six months.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, one local doctor touted a “silver bullet” remedy: early treatment with inhaled corticosteroids. Dr. Richard Bartlett was bashed publicly by naysayers and even some area doctors – one in Andrews who called Dr. Bartlett “crazy”.
Permian Basin residents know Dr. Bartlett is not crazy. Quietly and humbly, Dr. Bartlett continued helping countless people here in the Permian Basin and around the world. Bartlett and his sister Laura traveled tirelessly day after day to spread the word, treat patients, and save lives.
The treatment Dr. Bartlett recommended was met with doubt and even some downright ridicule. It was simple. Budesonide had been around for over 40 years at the start of the pandemic, and many believed it just could not be that simple. Others were scared and looking for a new breakthrough solution from the big pharmaceutical companies.
Dr. Bartlett’s professional reputation came under attack locally and across the country. Even Medical Center Hospital Board Member Wallace Dunn called Dr. Bartlett “crazy” after MCH issued Dr. Bartlett a trespassing warning following a time in which Dr. Bartlett was escorted into the hospital by a friendly MCH employee. The very strange issuance of a trespassing warning by MCH came after MCH had come under fire for placing bags over patients’ heads.
Was Dr. Bartlett attacked and ridiculed because his recommended treatment for COVID-19 did not work, or because it did?
Months after Dr. Bartlett had been maligned and largely silenced by many in the media, medical professionals locally and nationally, and by some of the public at large, the studies began to come in.
Dr. Bartlett was right. Early treatment with inhaled corticosteroids proved to be effective in clinical studies, so much so that Senator Rand Paul joined Dr. Bartlett, Big Spring FNP Dr. Alexandria Watkins, and other medical professionals in asking for budesonide to be given Emergency Use Authorization.
How many lives could have been saved if the powers that be had not sought to attack and discredit Dr. Bartlett and the life-saving treatment he prescribed early in the pandemic? Millions? Possibly. We will never know.
What we know is that being right, standing firm, and genuinely caring about people is a rarity in a world seemingly gone mad. It can be lonely out on that limb, but heroes do not do it for gain or glory. Dr. Bartlett and Laura Bartlett got neither of those.
Dr. Richard Bartlett and Laura Bartlett are heroes.

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