Ontario hospital apologizes after staff director gets family member early COVID-19 vaccine
KITCHENER -- A hospital in Orangeville, Ont., is apologizing after a staff director had a family member receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of schedule.
In a statement to CTV News, Headwaters Health Care Centre President Kim Delahunt said the family member received the vaccination during a break in scheduled appointments at the region's vaccination clinic. The family member was getting other tests the same day the clinic was running.
"As health care professionals we have an obligation to make appropriate decisions and as leaders must accept that we will be held to a higher standard," the statement from Delahunt said in part. "However, as humans, we are also influenced by our innate sense of duty and care for our families. This was a failure in sound decision making by one individual, for which they and the hospital are deeply sorry. This was an isolated incident."
Delahunt confirmed the staff director has decided to retire.
In the statement, Delahunt said the clinic was supposed to be for staff, physicians and health-care workers from community partners.
"Appointments were made based on an ethical decision-making framework," she said. "A total of 221 people received their first dose at the vaccination clinic that day."
Second doses are scheduled for February.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer said she was "deeply disappointed by this unfortunate situation."
"Since receiving our first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, public health has prioritized vaccinations based on the province’s ethical framework, including a standby plan to prevent vaccine wastage," a statement from Dr. Mercer said in part. "Vaccinating the most vulnerable people in our region is a collaborative effort requiring the trust of all partners."
She said bookings at the hospital were handled through direction from public health.
"For someone to choose to misrepresent themselves to Public Health staff in order to jump the queue and gain access to the vaccine early erodes the confidence of the public in this important work," Dr. Mercer said.
She added she's still confident in the work being done at Headwaters.
"(I) encourage the public not to let the actions of one individual tarnish the important role the hospital and its staff has played and will continue to play in the fight against COVID-19."
Health regions across Ontario are facing vaccine shortages due to supply issues with Pfizer.
The Ministry of Health said it's prioritizing vaccinating long-term care and retirement home residents, along with staff and essential caregivers. However, any leftover doses from missed appointments can be used to vaccinate others on site, "such as health care workers, in line with Ontario's ethical framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and priority population risk matrix."