Atrium Health explains COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan in detail after WBTV investigation

Atrium Health explains COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan in detail after WBTV investigation
Atrium Health released a detailed explanation of their COVID-19 distribution plan Monday after a WBTV investigation that uncovered the hospital system was scheduling non-critical employees to receive the vaccine, despite North Carolina regulations. (Source: Atrium Health | Twitter)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Atrium Health released a detailed explanation of their COVID-19 distribution plan Monday after a WBTV investigation that uncovered the hospital system was scheduling non-critical employees to receive the vaccine, despite North Carolina regulations.

A day after the WBTV report about Atrium’s vaccine policy, officials with the hospital system said as many as 97 employees would have vaccination appointments canceled.

On Monday, Dec. 28, Atrium Health released it’s most detailed report yet about its vaccine distribution plan.

Atrium Health says before any employees, referred to as teammates, can receive the vaccine, each teammate must register with the state to receive the vaccine.

“Once the state verifies the teammate can receive the vaccine, we have established a rigorous internal process with a four-tiered prioritized system, which ensures our frontline healthcare workers and clinical partners who are at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 are offered the doses first,” the message on their website read. “Teammates in other nonpatient-facing roles will be invited to get their vaccinations after those at high risk in Phase 1a have been taken care of.”

According to Atrium Health, as of 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 28:

  • Nearly 5,100 Phase 1a healthcare workers have received their initial vaccine.
  • 11,500 Phase 1a healthcare workers have scheduled their first vaccine.
  • 11,400 Phase 1a healthcare workers have scheduled their second vaccine.

The hospital system then listed the healthcare workers who can get the vaccine in Phase 1a.

Officials say on Dec. 23, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services State Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, sent out new guidance to all health systems on Phase 1a vaccination healthcare workers.

  • Healthcare workers critical to caring for patients with COVID-19 at high risk for COVID-19 exposure based on work duties or who are vital to the initial COVID-19 vaccine response.
  • Healthcare workers at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 are defined as those:
  • Caring for patients with COVID-19.
  • Working directly in areas where patients with COVID-19 are cared for, including staff responsible for cleaning, providing food service and maintenance in those areas.
  • Performing procedures at high risk of aerosolization on patients with COVID-19, such as intubation, bronchoscopy, suctioning, invasive dental procedures, invasive specimen collection or CPR.
  • Handling patients who have died from COVID-19.

“Outpatient providers who have an increased risk of exposure beyond that of a typical general outpatient setting should be included in Phase 1a. This could include outpatient providers who are focused on COVID-19 patient evaluation, respiratory care – such as respiratory diagnostic testing centers, members of a dedicated respiratory care team or those frequently involved in COVID-19 testing sites. Outpatient dentists or dental hygienists are included in Phase 1a if they meet the above criteria for outpatient healthcare providers. In addition, healthcare workers administering the vaccine in initial mass vaccination clinics are part of this first phase, Phase 1a,” the message read.

The hospital system goes into more detail about their vaccine distribution plan here.

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