An official at Washington’s Overlake Medical Center & Clinics last Friday emailed roughly 110 donors who gave more than $10,000 to the Eastside hospital system, advising them that vaccine slots were available and providing them with an access code to register for appointments, according to a Seattle Times report, but the center later rescinded the invitation after receiving a call from the staff of state’s governor, Jay Inslee.
The emails, according to the Times, were addressed to “Overlake major donors” and stated that there were 500 open appointments available for January 22, January 23, and the following week, that could be accessed “by invite” only.
Overlake says the vaccination slots were not offered exclusively to donors but to approximately 4,000 people in total, including Overlake board members, some patients, volunteers, employees and retired health providers
The emails reportedly explained that anyone who registered was supposed to be eligible for the vaccine under current state guidelines.
Tom DeBord, the medical center’s chief operating officer, told the paper the emailed invitation was a “quick-fix solution” after the hospital’s scheduling system crashed, leaving the hospital with 1,400 open appointments that couldn’t be easily listed.
“We’re under pressure to vaccinate people who are eligible and increase capacity… We thought that was the most efficient way to add slots,” DeBord said. “In hindsight, we could certainly look back and say this wasn’t the best way to do it.”
Hospital systems in Washington, as in many other states throughout the country, have been tasked with facilitating the vaccination of millions of residents. And, according to the Seattle Times, these hospitals’ administrators have “been provided little logistical support, an unreliable supply of vaccines and fast-changing guidance on who qualifies and how to reach them.” Last week, Inslee announced that anyone 65 and over would be eligible to receive a vaccine shot. This led to a surge of seniors attempting to schedule appointments, which “overtaxed” Overlake’s system and crashed its scheduling software. It was at that point that Overlake sent the emails. However, a policy adviser to Inslee called Overlake officials Monday and “encouraged” them to “cut access to the exclusive appointments, which it did on Tuesday morning, freeing some slots for the general public.”
In a news conference on Tuesday, Inslee said that if Overlake was “giving preference to some VIP list” that would “not be acceptable for us.” Inslee added that every person in the state should have a “fair shot” at the vaccine.
Earlier this month, the Miami Herald reported that at least three South Florida hospital systems offered vaccines to some donors in advance of the general public.
200 million. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that his administration has ordered 200 million more coronavirus vaccine doses, an additional 100 million doses of each of the two FDA-authorized vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.
Special access to COVID-19 vaccine for Overlake Medical Center donors draws Inslee rebuke (Seattle Times)
Biden Administration Orders Enough Coronavirus Vaccine Doses To Immunize 300 Million Americans ‘By Early Fall’ (Forbes)
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