Providence promises changes after Medford board members vaccinated ahead of other groups

Providence said on Thursday that its vaccine procedures 'created the impression that some people are able to use their access to get a vaccination appointment.'

Posted: Feb 4, 2021 6:37 PM
Updated: Feb 4, 2021 7:11 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Providence Health & Services acknowledged on Thursday that some of its board members received the COVID-19 vaccine, despite Oregon's guidance prioritizing front-line healthcare workers and first responders for receiving the meager supply of doses.

Providence spokesman Gary Walker said that the healthcare provider has issued vaccine invitations to more than 27,000 people — including employees; medical staff; and members of Providence's Oregon Community Ministry Board, the provider's statewide governing entity.

Walker said that these invitations aligned with Oregon's guidance as of December 18, 2020. Among those thousands of invitations, 24 board members — 18 in Medford and 6 in Seaside — were contacted about vaccine availability.

The Medford group, which included some foundation members, volunteered to be on a waiting list for any available unused doses at the end of a day. In Seaside, Walker said, six foundation and community board members accepted invitations to be vaccinated.

"As people who are registered with the county to serve as volunteer staff at vaccine clinics, these six individuals were eligible to be vaccinated under Oregon’s guidelines," Walker said.

Oregon Health Authority representative Jonathan Modie told NewsWatch 12 that vaccinating hospital administrators, managers, executives, board members, or other staff without potential exposure to sick patients does not align with the state's Phase 1a guidance — with the caveat that the rules in the early days of vaccine roll-out were somewhat more nebulous.

"Early on, when the only vaccine available in Oregon was Pfizer’s vaccine, which required ultra-cold storage, OHA did allow hospitals and other providers some flexibility in using every dose available in their inventory, recognizing there may be times when it was important that a thawed dose be used quickly rather than risk that dose going to waste," Modie said. 

As Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccination effort has moved forward, Modie said, and without any great expansion in the supply of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, providers "must make sure" that doses go only to individuals who are eligible to receive them — meaning staff who have the greatest potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infection.

Regardless, Modie said that OHA is not pursuing sanctions against vaccine providers who inoculate people of "dubious" eligibility.

Some local vaccine providers have openly made the decision, when doses have been in danger of expiration, to vaccinate people near at hand regardless of eligiblity. Josephine County Public Health's efforts to use leftover doses on drivers stuck waiting on a snowbound Highway 199 made national headlines. Days later, Klamath County Public Health gave doses to patients at a nearby clinic after overestimating the need at the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission.

These decisions, however, provided vaccines to a relatively random sample of the population.

"We’re asking people who work or volunteer in health care, or serve on health care boards, to do the right thing: If your work doesn’t put you at risk of direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials, you probably aren’t part of Phase 1a, you aren’t eligible, and you should wait your turn to get vaccinated," Modie said.

Providence voiced a commitment to following through on those admonishments from state officials.

"In retrospect, we understand that in our haste to vaccinate people quickly and/or avoid wasting doses, including a small number of our hospital community created the impression that some people are able to use their access to get a vaccination appointment," said Walker. "This was not in line with our organization’s standard practice and we have made changes. We are making sure our processes to vaccinate people as quickly and efficiently as possible do not raise concerns about fairness or equity."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309841

Reported Deaths: 3569
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah50840642
Washington34683272
Marion32181388
Clackamas26315270
Lane23632246
Jackson20753255
Deschutes16401100
Umatilla12552125
Douglas10599185
Linn1030285
Josephine8536163
Yamhill737299
Klamath637891
Polk617770
Malheur475867
Benton454027
Coos406469
Columbia320237
Jefferson310446
Lincoln272829
Union266036
Wasco236739
Crook212137
Clatsop210225
Tillamook179623
Baker171920
Morrow166621
Curry166317
Hood River161635
Harney77115
Grant7538
Lake6608
Wallowa50111
Gilliam1364
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4629254

Reported Deaths: 67880
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144280825828
Riverside3568674792
San Diego3488504006
San Bernardino3463255488
Orange3135295346
Sacramento1496892070
Santa Clara1400931838
Fresno1351721882
Kern1343971515
Alameda1158381320
Ventura974721116
San Joaquin968971610
Contra Costa95424924
Stanislaus800341229
Tulare72498895
San Mateo52065607
San Francisco51698605
Monterey49400564
Solano43993312
Santa Barbara42954498
Sonoma39293376
Merced39105533
Placer36269362
Imperial34170755
Kings29948281
San Luis Obispo28194311
Madera21586258
Butte21114230
Shasta20487276
Santa Cruz20094211
Yolo19082239
Marin17053242
El Dorado15913127
Sutter13025153
Napa1223195
Yuba919261
Nevada843085
Humboldt823184
Tehama817684
San Benito707767
Mendocino679471
Lassen634127
Tuolumne610393
Lake598987
Amador488258
Glenn395030
Siskiyou386541
Calaveras337066
Del Norte332734
Colusa290318
Inyo166039
Mono14705
Plumas12216
Mariposa96712
Trinity71410
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1010
Alpine990
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