Barnes-Kasson Hospital administrators believed they had COVID-19 vaccinations of people in the state’s
1A group – mostly comprised of health care workers – largely covered and began vaccinating people included in the 1B group, said Dave Passetti, Barnes-Kasson executive vice president. But on Friday, the hospital was told to stop.
“We were confident we had 1A well in hand. We moved on to 1B because we had the human resources to deploy the vaccine and the doses in hand,” Passetti said, noting Barnes-Kasson has the largest staff in the county.
Barnes-Kasson serves as the medical provider for three county school districts: Susquehanna Community, Blue Ridge and Mountain View, and teachers were offered the COVID-19 vaccine, Passetti said, about the story that broke on a local broadcast news station on Friday. In 2009, during the H1N1 pandemic, Barnes-Kasson helped vaccinate school district staff and students. “Just like with that one, we had a responsibility and obligation to take care of the public,” he said.
The hospital, however, received a call from the emergency preparedness coordinator from the region to stop the teacher vaccinations. But on Monday, Passetti said Barnes-Kasson received word that they can start whittling away at the 1B group. The state released its fourth version of its vaccination roll-out plan on Friday.
“We have a handle on 1A and we are – little by little – phasing into 1B again,” he said.
Passetti said Barnes-Kasson is attempting to administer the vaccines in a methodical way, and “trying to digest the newest groupings” from the Version 4 playbook.
Vaccinations of people in the 1A group will continue of the “handful of people who waited,” he said, and Barnes-Kasson will continue to administer the vaccine to non-affiliated health care personnel.
“We’re actually making a list. Right now, it’s a bit overwhelming,” he said. As people from the 1B category begin calling to be placed on the vaccination list, Passetti said they are being told it could take weeks for them to receive a call back. The health care facility is making a list and, along with the other health care organization administering vaccines, are formulating a plan.
“The calls are really overwhelming,” he said. “There’s probably 800 people on the list already.”
So far, there has been no talk of vaccine clinic, but Passetti said other states are administering doses in that manner.
“Our role is different with the rural health clinic program,” he said and offered the approach was to do what they need to do to take care of the community when they had enough of the vaccine. “The end result will be as many people vaccinated as want to be or are willing to be.”
In addition to administering the COVID vaccine, Passetti said COVID-19 testing has been non-stop. The facility offers drive-up testing by appointment, as well as internal testing for its skilled nursing facility. He said they are conducting over 500 tests each week.
After the vaccinations were halted late last week (now resumed), Commissioner Alan Hall took to social media in the role as the Public Information Officer for the county. In his social media address, Hall said, “Barnes-Kasson has done nothing wrong.”
He said the health care provider followed the protocols from the state and had “gone through all the people they were accountable for” before moving on to the next eligible group. The state changed the rules on Friday, Hall said.
“Barnes-Kasson, EMHS and NEPA Community Health are working very hard to get this done as quickly as possible,” Hall said. “They all have vaccine and they all are doing their jobs and trying to do their jobs as quickly as possible,” Hall said. “Before finding fault, nobody has done anything wrong, the rules have changed>”
Hall said the county commissioners have been pushing to get as much of the vaccine as possible to push through the protocols.