Hospital CEO apologizes for phone system issues in scheduling vaccinations in Burke County, says things will get better

Hospital CEO apologizes for phone system issues in scheduling vaccinations in Burke County, says things will get better

MORGANTON, N.C. (WBTV) - More than 7,000 people in Burke County have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far, many of them this week at clinics held by the local hospital, Carolinas Healthcare System Blue Ridge.

Some people, though, were not happy with the system that was set up to make appointments. Phone lines opened on Tuesday morning and they were inundated.

“We received 23,000 phone calls in one 2 hour period,” said hospital CEO Kathy Bailey, who added, “That’s gonna crash any system.”

Many people could not get through and those who did were left on hold, in some cases, for more than an hour.

“We apologize for the long hold, the dropped calls, and at times not being able to speak to a live person,” said Bailey.

She says changes have been made to make the system work better and there is work ongoing to create an online system too.

The real issue, though, says County Health Director Rebecca McLeod, is a steady supply of vaccine.

There is enough for second doses for those who have been vaccinated once, but the first dose supply is thin. Next week, the county, she says, will get only 200 doses from the state and the hospital will get the same. 400 doses for a week is frustrating she says.

“We have a population of 90,000,” McLeod said.

Meanwhile, those who were able to get their first dose on Friday said they were grateful for it.

“It’s a miracle,” said Ray Smith. He and others said they hope this is the start of the end of the coronavirus crisis.

Health officials say it could be, if enough supplies come in.

McLeod thinks that eventually vaccine supplies will catch up with demand and says she hopes the public understands.

“Just have patience, please,” she said.

Copyright 2021 WBTV. All rights reserved.