Medical students in the labor department of Coombe Hospital were transferred for Covid-19 vaccines the night they were given to 16 family members of staff, the investigation into the incident has been told.
Two days after two of his own children were vaccinated, the master, Prof. Michael O’Connell, told a senior colleague that the hospital was “not in a position” to vaccinate the students, according to the colleague.
Nearly 40 students were on standby to receive faxes, and hospital management was this an hour before the faxes were given to the 16 families, Prof Deirdre Murphy, head of the obstetrics department at Trinity College Dublin, told the review.
The details are set out in a letter to Brian Kennedy SC, the lawyer conducting a review of the episode for the board of directors of Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital.
Prof Murphy describes arguments put forward by Prof O’Connell as “untenable” and says she is “personally embarrassed” by his behavior.
Prof O’Connell apologized in January when The Irish Times revealed that the hospital was giving faxes to the family members of staff. He said he had “made every effort to prioritize and identify additional frontline workers” for the faxes on the eve of the January 8 incident.
Work at night
In her letter, Prof Murphy said the hospital’s senior executive team knew the medical students were on standby to receive faxes. The Executive of Health Service had advised that students in addition to other health personnel be vaccinated during their hospital placements.
At that time, the 39 students were on placement in obstetrics, with some working overnight in the labor department.
TCD requested that the hospital vaccinate the students and was asked to provide information. New PPS numbers had to be obtained for the international students, many of them from high-risk black and Asian ethnic groups, according to Prof Murphy.
She said the students were advised to remain on standby for vaccination, “in the hope that there would be excess vaccine after all frontline health care staff had been vaccinated”.
On January 8, Prof Murphy saw young people in the hospital standing for vaccination and assumed they were the medical students. At 8:32 a.m., she sent an email to the Coombe executive team thanking her for admitting the students.
On Sunday, January 10, Prof O’Connell replied, “Just to clarify at this point, we are not in a position to vaccinate the students, but will be happy to facilitate their vaccination should vaccines be available.”
The children of the family members were vaccinated that evening at 9.30pm when no other suitable people were available, the hospital told media last month. The students were later vaccinated at other hospitals in Dublin.
“A lot of effort went into preparing the documentation for medical students to vaccinate and Dr. O’Connell chose to vaccinate his children instead,” Prof Murphy said.
She said the low-risk vaccination of family members “discredits the profession”. Her daughter worked for her as a receptionist during the pandemic, she said.
“Under no circumstances would I have transferred my daughter to be vaccinated because she has a very low risk of Covid-19.”
Prof Murphy said she was concerned “there may be an attempt to withhold information from the assessment process or to be less than transparent about the facts”.
She also wrote the letter because the hospital’s reputation was tarnished and she was a senior member of the clinical / academic staff.
“The trust and respect we have earned as consultants within the hospital has been eroded at a time when staff are under great pressure to care for patients and working together is essential.
The master’s explanation of how the excess doses were available to come was “unsustainable”, she added.
Last month, Prof O’Connell said six and sometimes seven doses of vaccine were received from each vial, instead of five as expected, due to “operational efficiencies”. The availability of surplus provision only became clear on Friday evening, January 8, and the decision to use the last remaining doses after that day of vaccination was made to prevent vaccination from having to be refused.
But Prof Murphy said the information that at least six doses per vial could be known was by the HSE and from experience in Israel.
Last night’s vaccination also took place at the Coombe in the previous two days, ‘arguing that this situation first arose on Friday night. [ January 8th] is unbearable ”.
Any excess vaccine could be delivered to other health care providers with inadequate or no vaccine, they suggested.
Contacted by The Irish Times, Prof Murphy said the issue was of public interest. “I have received legal warnings about confidentiality in relation to this case, and in particular about integration with the media. ,, and can therefore not help you at this time. ”
A Coombe spokeswoman said it would not comment while Mr. Kennedy conducted his review.
The hospital expects him to complete his work within a few weeks.
It is understood that Mr Kennedy has already interviewed a number of people at the hospital as part of his review.