KANSAS CITY, MO. – There is a great demand for a limited supply of vaccines which raises questions about who is receiving doses and why.
Several viewers reached out to 41 Action News and asked why the footage was being sent to health care volunteers, board members or staff who have no contact with patients.
The 41 Action News I team reached out to all of the major Kansas City subway healthcare systems to learn how decisions were made about who received vaccines.
To put it bluntly, all health systems in our region have started vaccinating their frontline workers, who are the patients first.
“We started with the people who had the most contact and then worked our way down until we got to the people we call non-clinical. These could be support staff, call center staff, dieters, ”said Jill Chadwick, director of media relations for the University of Kansas Health System.
The University of Kansas Health System worked its way through the list, eventually vaccinating people who worked remotely.
“Not everyone who is at home or works from home is always at home. Sometimes they come back and forth, ”said Chadwick.
She brought the example of IT staff.
“IT does everything from keeping our computers running to making sure the technical equipment in an operating room is working and functioning,” said Chadwick.
The University of Kansas health system is the only one that has agreed to explain its process on camera.
However, the Saint Luke, Children’s Mercy, and Truman Medical Centers / University Health health systems also confirmed that they vaccinated remote workers.
A spokesperson for TMC indicated that employees who work from home will return to buildings between March 1 and April 1.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for HCA Midwest Health said the system follows federal and state prioritization.
HCA Midwest Health also said it was following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for health care workers, but follow-up questions about remote workers remained unanswered.
The CDC recommendations Healthcare workers have a broad network, including administrative, billing, security and facility management staff, “who are not directly involved in patient care but may be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted through healthcare”.
The 41 Action News I team also confirmed that some health systems have offered doses to their boards of directors.
In all cases, these individuals were part of the very last round of vaccination within organizations.
At the University of Kansas Health System, all board members were invited to receive vaccines, but many had already received doses because they were doctors.
Chadwick said the others who were offered vaccines met criteria for the current stage in Kansas.
The health system argues that board members need to be healthy to make important operational decisions.
“These are people who have to show up for work every day, just like the rest of us,” said Chadwick of board members.
Truman Medical Centers only vaccinated board members who fit into open phases in Missouri.
The Mercy of Saint Luke and the Children also offered tins to their boards.
Dr. Arthur Caplan, founding director of the medical ethics department at NYU’s School of Medicine, disapproves of the practice of vaccinating board members when they can meet virtually.
“If you are safe and isolated, you don’t need to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Caplan.
Regarding remote workers as a whole, he noted that many decisions have been left to the health systems themselves.
“They define who a key worker is, and part of the answer is that a lot of people fit the bill of important workers,” said Dr. Caplan.
Missouri is a perfect example of how decisions are left to organizations.
The government vaccine rollout plan does not distinguish between essential and non-essential personnel within health systems.
“Every employee in organizations within the priority phases can be vaccinated at the time of activation of this phase or stage,” says a slide in a presentation about the plan.
Meanwhile the first phase in Kansas included “People who work in the healthcare or healthcare sector cannot work from home and are directly or indirectly exposed to patients or infectious materials as a result of their work.”
The Missouri and Kansas plans also prioritized unpaid health care workers.
TMC / UH vaccinated volunteers helping with the vaccination effort, such as students from UMKC Schools of Nursing and Medicine and retired healthcare workers.
Children’s Mercy also decided to vaccinate volunteer patients, describing them as an “essential part” of their surgery.
However, Chadwick said the University of Kansas healthcare system had taken a different stance.
“Volunteers didn’t have to be here,” said Chadwick. “We do a lot of volunteer work, so it is just as difficult to limit and limit as it is to limit family members who have done a lot in the hospital to care for their loved ones.
At the end of the day, Chadwick stressed that the health system is following the rules set by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and CDC, and staff look forward to the day that cans become widely available.
“There are many people here in the healthcare system who would have liked to have given their shot to someone else. But it’s our culture and our belief that we need to take care of the people who care about other people, ”said Chadwick.