A new health care provider preparing to open its newest Seattle clinic on Capitol Hill is facing criticism and has lost partnerships with three California counties including the company’s home turf of San Francisco after being accused of allowing “line jumping” in its providing of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Washington State Department of Health also halted distribution of COVID-19 vaccine to the company citing a complaint, NPR reports.
One Medical strenuously denies the allegations. “Any assertions that we broadly and knowingly disregard eligibility guidelines are in direct contradiction to our actual approach to vaccine administration,” the company said in a statement posted in response to the reports. “We have numerous checkpoints in place — online at the time of appointment booking, prior to the appointment via a labor-intensive “schedule scanning” process, and in-person verification at the point of care as needed– to mitigate abuse of our vaccine booking system.”
NPR reported this week that leaked “internal communications” show the SF-based health care provider “administered COVID-19 vaccinations to people deemed ineligible for the scarce vaccine by local health departments, including people with connections to company leaders and customers of its concierge medical service.”
“Ineligible individuals with connections to company leadership were set up with vaccine appointments, and patients who were disqualified from receiving the vaccine were nonetheless permitted to skip the line ahead of other high-risk patients,” NPR reported.
The communications include evidence, NPR says, that some of the improper vaccinations occurred here in Washington. “I have had two [patients] today, both in their 20-30s without risk factors and are tech workers who have gotten their covid vaccines. One was thru us,” NPR says a Washington One Medical doctor wrote in the leaked material.
One Medical currently operates three locations in Seattle. A fourth, a company spokesperson tells CHS, is planned to open next month on Broadway in the former Panera bread location.
CHS reported in March 2020 about One Medical’s plans for joining the lucrative Capitol Hill health provider market. “One Medical is excited to expand to Capitol Hill for many reasons, but mainly the vibrancy of the neighborhood and the ability to reach our ever-expanding memberbase,” a company representative told CHS at the time.
Hunters Capital, the building’s owner, confirms that One Medical remains a tenant.
The “line jumping” scandal comes as Seattle has worked to make progress addressing inequity in vaccine distribution. Officials say there is progress reaching vulnerable communities in the first phase of the state’s vaccination plan. Along the way, there have been ugly moments including Overlake Medical Center offering donors special access to COVID-19 vaccination. Other examples of “line jumping” include reports of people taking advantage of the honor system and claiming eligibility or using personal connections to received “leftover” vaccine. A representative for federal Rep. Pramila Jayapal said that her office was working to ban “special access” by distributors after learning of hospitals giving opportunities for vaccines to donors and board members.
Meanwhile, another health provider quietly exited Capitol Hill. The Sameday Health company confirmed it shuttered its 15th Ave E facility after popping up a testing clinic late last year in a retail space left empty by a vintage shop closure caused by the COVID-19 financial crisis.
“With the state of Washington doing such an incredible job in providing widespread access to COVID-9 testing, we felt our Sameday Health clinics would better serve the communities and cities in need of more testing facilities, and have decided to close our testing sites in Seattle,” the company said in a statement. “We remain very grateful to the Seattle community for the support the last few months.”
CHS reported here on Seattle’s plans to reach a fall 2021 70% vaccination level officials say will allow the area to successfully emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
THANKS! WE DID IT! 1,000 CHS SUBSCRIBERS -- We asked, you answered. Thanks for stepping up!
Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.