Despite rise in number of infections and Center for Disease Control prediction of "impending doom," four facilities are not giving vaccines.
Online PR News – 01-April-2021 – CLEVELAND, OHIO – "We have the ability to end this. We can drive this virus into the ground. But we all have to participate."
That’s what Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said about the COVID 19 pandemic last week in a press conference.
But according to research by Cleveland's Lucky Star Communications, among the groups who don’t believe this, surprisingly, is Northeast Ohio’s largest hospital chain, Cleveland Clinic, which Newsweek recently named the second best hospital in the country.
With 11 hospitals and family clinics located in the area, Cleveland Clinic has shut the doors of four facilities to COVID vaccinations, leaving thousands of Clevelanders with less access to shots and delaying the end of the pandemic, according to the Lucky Star analysis.
“The problem is that Cleveland Clinic seems to think they are doing a good job,” says Jeff Barge, CEO of Lucky Star. “And that's a problem in a number of different ways. If Gov. DeWine knew this, he would be shocked."
"With only 26% of the state vaccinated, that leaves so-called ‘reluctant’ patients without their trusted doctors," says Barge. "It leaves us in a precarious position for the next pandemic. If we can’t admit we are doing a bad job now, then nothing will be fixed and we will do a bad job in the future."
Cleveland Clinic spokesperson Alicia Real Cooney defends the Clinic: "We selected various geographic locations throughout Northeast Ohio," she wrote in an e-mail. "Not all of our hospitals have vaccination clinics. We have a limited supply of vaccine, and that supply is determined by the state. We are distributing it according to ODH (Ohio Department of Health) guidelines at our designated vaccination clinics. We open up appointments based on supply. Individual doctors do not have the vaccine in their offices."
That’s not exactly true. According to the New York Times, there is no longer a shortage of vaccine, there is a surplus.
And according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), the reason these four Cleveland Clinic facilities do not distribute the vaccine is because they never applied for permission to do so. They decide to sit out this pandemic.
This was the Cleveland Clinic’s own decision, according to Alicia Shouts, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Health. "The Ohio Department of Health reviews and approves vaccine administration sites based on applications for administration we receive for a given provider. The Ohio Department of Health does not determine which facilities a hospital system chooses to enroll,” she wrote in response to a query.
Mr. Barge says his own Cleveland Clinic facility is in Lakewood -- "and none of the staff there is giving out the vaccine, even though all it takes is a refrigerator, a nurse and a needle," says Barge.
Do people in Lakewood want to have Cleveland Clinic administer the vaccine there?
"Absolutely," says Ohio State Senator Nickie Antonio, (D-Lakewood). “They’ve got the facilities. They’ve got parking. They’re equipped to do it, especially for their existing patients.”
"In my experience my trusted family doctor – well, I am a family of one – has been instructed that he has no role in my COVID care," says Barge.
"Might be quicker to go to CVS?" Barge's doctor wrote, referencing the pharmacy chain that is a site nationwide for COVID vaccinations and which has administered 3. million doses so far. "I don't handle any of the vaccination stuff. With Cleveland Clinic, you will get a MyChart notiification when it is available for you."
Barge never did.
"The decision by Cleveland Clinic to close off the traditional doctor-patient relationship specifically when it comes to the largest pandemic in a century is disturbing in terms of our ability to reach herd immunity," says Barge.
According to one theory printed in the New York Times recently, the 26% of Americans who have been vaccinated are the low-hanging fruit. These are people who want to be vaccinated. They don’t have to be persuaded.
But huge groups of people – including 49 percent of Republican men -- refuse to be vaccinated, blocking the path to quick herd immunity.
"Without their cooperation, the pandemic might never end. But because family doctors are no longer in charge of COVID issues," says Barge. "Patients have been ripped from a trusted advisor who might be able to do so."
As Pres. Joe Biden recently said: "I discussed it with my team, and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say."
"Opting out" of a pandemic, like these four Cleveland Clinic hospitals have chosen to do, should not be an option in a national emergency that has closed down the country," says Barge.
"To tell doctors they are not authorized to help their longtime established patients when it comes to getting COVID health is also a bad decision. In the next pandemic," says Barge" "I would like to be vaccinated by my doctor, not by some well-intentioned but unskilled member of the National Guard in a downtown stadium.
"If the Cleveland Clinic refuses to reconsider its bad decision, that bodes poorly for the next pandemic, which experts predict will undoubtedly come," says Barge. "With the current director of the Center for Disease Control Rochelle Walensky predicting 'impending doom,' Cleveland Clinic will not come off as any kind of hero when this story is written."