More than a hundred medical workers at Stanford Medical Center staged a massive strike on Friday, accusing the institution of unfairly distributing its COVID-19 vaccine as the pandemic rages across California.
During the first week of coronavirus vaccination in the United States, resident doctors and Stanford fellows said they noticed experienced doctors who did not work directly with COVID-19 patients had already received vaccines, ahead of frontline health workers. Many of those vaccinated were working from home or were assigned to non-essential procedures, they said.
“First in the room, at the back of the line,” chanted workers as they left Stanford medical center on Friday afternoon carrying signs. Videos and photos posted on social media show dozens of scrub-clad hospital workers walking around the medical facility before gathering around a stairwell.
“I have seen 16 Covid patients in the past 24 hours … More than double the number of residents receiving the vaccine,” read a sign held by a masked medical worker.
“It’s not just about residents. We are here to represent our nurses. We are here to support them. Our respiratory therapists, our environmental service workers, the food staff, everyone, ”said a resident during the demonstration, before revealing that only two pediatric emergency nurses received vaccines.
Another Stanford resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of professional retaliation, accused Stanford of “neglecting” its frontline workers, especially those who are just starting their careers and have been willing to put their lives in danger. to provide care during the Covid19 pandemic. This resident said that only “about seven residents and fellows” should receive the vaccine in this first round, out of the 5,000 available doses.
“To put that in context, there are around 1,300 of us,” the resident told The Daily Beast. “This means that some medical workers who have been in intensive care have been abandoned while those who have worked from home since the start of the pandemic will receive the vaccine.”
“I mean, some healthcare professionals who should get any of 5,000 vaccines … haven’t even touched an N-95 mask or treated a COVID-19 patient. It’s absurd, ”added the resident.
The protesters said The Chronicle of San Francisco that the seven who were included in the first round of vaccinations were orthopedic surgeons, outpatient nurses and a dermatologist.
Stanford Medical Center services showed solidarity with medical workers protesting on social media on Friday, and some doctors have reportedly abandoned their place in the vaccination line.
Stanford Healthcare Department of Urology and Heads of Internal Medicine Unit were among those in the medical community who tweeted their dislike for the algorithm Stanford had in place to determine who would get the vaccine first. Roxana Daneshjou, a dermatologist at Stanford, tweeted that some “people in attendance … immediately gave up their spots because they didn’t ask to be in wave one and obviously want the frontline to get it first.”
“The Stanford EM residency program was appalled by the vaccine allocation process. An algorithm, designed to ensure equitable distribution of the first round of vaccines, failed to correctly identify high-risk healthcare workers. Although residents were included in the initial pool for review, the algorithm dropped them and far too few were included in the first round, ”said Dr Sara Marie Krzyzaniak, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine. emergency from Stanford, to the Daily Beast.
“Our department leadership has worked tirelessly to help correct this problem. Our program has immense gratitude for our residents and is deeply grateful for their work on the front lines in caring for our patients, ”added Krzyzaniak.
The astonishing protest drew a swift response from Stanford executives, including Stanford Health Care CEO David Entwhistle, who reportedly told the assembled crowd, “We’re going to fix this. We know this is wrong. “
Officials at the medical center also admitted that there were “flaws” in their vaccination plan and promised that a new solution was being developed in September. a statement sent at The Chronicle of San Francisco. Stanford Medical Center did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
To date, 22,160 have died and 1.7 million others have tested positive for COVID-19 in California, which is currently experiencing another wave of coronavirus cases that has forced state officials to implement strict restrictions to reduce the spread. On Thursday, the state recorded 52,000 new cases – more infections than in all of Germany or India – and is currently battling a positivity rate of almost 12%.
Complaints of people “cutting” the range of vaccines have multiplied throughout the week across the country. New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital was criticized this week for vaccinating a marketing employee before hospital employees who directly interact with COVID-19 patients.
And ahead of Friday’s protest, Stanford residents and fellows sent a letter to university leaders in response to the distribution plan, saying the initial allocation of the more than 5,000 Pfizer vaccines obtained was not enough.
“Except you forgot those of us who are on the front lines: residents and fellows were essentially not included in the first round of vaccines despite working over 80 hours per week at the treating hospital. COVID-19 patients, ”Dr Earth Hasassri, a child and adolescent psychiatry researcher at Sanford Medical Center, also tweeted in response to Stanford plan.
“There is still no articulated plan to vaccinate the remaining 1300+ residents and fellows, including those who are on the front lines directly treating COVID-19 patients,” the letter said, noting that the pecking order vaccine does not match the exposure level of Stanford employees. “It is important for us to explain to you that at this time the residents are hurt, disappointed, frustrated, angry and feel a deep sense of mistrust of the administration of the hospital given the sacrifices we have made and the promises that were made. we.”
Stanford officials sent out several emails this week apologizing for the botched vaccine distribution, according to Politico, who got two of the emails from a tipster. The first, Stanford Chief Medical Officer Niraj Sehgal, said: “It is clear that there have been several unintentional missteps” and lamented the “perceived lack of priority for residents and fellows”, which Sehgal insisted it wasn’t on purpose.
Another email later in the week from Stanford officials reminded recipients that although frontline workers have been denied vaccination this cycle, an additional 15,000 doses of the vaccine are arriving next week. “There are now active conversations to ensure that interns are meaningfully represented in all levels to come,” the email said.
“The disparities in vaccine distribution can be seen at a micro level at Stanford today. I’m afraid that the situation we see at [Stanford] is a harbinger of population-level vaccine distribution inequalities for our underserved communities, ”said Dr. Christine Santiago, resident of the Stanford Internal Medicine Program, tweeted Friday.
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