Grafton hospital fires employee who it say intentionally ruined more than 500 does of Covid-19 vaccine

What Aurora Medical Center initially called an accident is being investigated as a crime by feds, local police
By 
DAN BENSON
Ozaukee Press staff

Thursday, Jan. 31, update:

A worker at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton has been fired for intentionally removing Covid-19 vaccine from a refrigerator and leaving them overnight, forcing the hospital to throw out 57 vials, more than 500 doses, of the Moderna vaccine, the hospital system said Wednesday. 

The Grafton Police Department announced in a press release that it is investigating the incident, along with the FBI and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after the department was contacted by Aurora corporate security at 6:18 p.m. Wednesday.

Advocate Aurora first reported that the doses has been spoiled on Saturday, saying they had been accidentally left out unrefrigerated overnight by an employee at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton. 

But on Wednesday, the worker who was responsible admitted to doing it on purpose, Advocate Aurora said.

“We are more than disappointed that this individual’s actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine. This was a violation of our core values, and the individual is no longer employed by us,” Advocate Aurora said in a statement.

The statement did not mention a possible motive for the action.

Grafton police said Thursday morning that no other information would be immediately released.

Like the other vaccine approved for emergency use in the United States, made by Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine requires initial transport and storage at deep-freeze temperatures, but can then be stored locally at more typical refrigeration temperatures for several days before use.

 

This story was posted Wednesday, Jan. 30:

First responders could get vaccinated against Covid-19 beginning next week, officials say, as the vaccine rollout has started around the state, despite a hiccup locally.

“It is coming soon, next week hopefully,” Grafton Fire Chief Bill Rice said. “All the firefighters (in Ozaukee County) have been warned that it will come up very quickly and they’re going to need to respond quickly. They won’t have several days’ notice.”

Rice has offered the Grafton fire station as a distribution point for the vaccine to first responders because of its central location.

He had not heard back from the Washington Ozaukee Health Department confirming that, however. 

“They asked if we were interested and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ My impression is that we are going to be,” he said.

Telephone calls made to the health department seeking confirmation were not returned.

First responders are among the first to receive vaccinations. Others among that group include front-line health care workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities.

The vaccine roll-out hit a snag locally, however, when Advocate Aurora Health revealed that 50 vials of the Moderna vaccine were left out of a pharmacy refrigerator overnight at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, rendering most of the vaccine they contained useless.

Each vial contained 10 doses.

Aurora said in a statement the vials “were inadvertently removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight.”

Some of the vaccine was administered to team members on Saturday, Dec. 26, within the 12-hour post-refrigeration window, but most had to be discarded because of temperature requirements, the company said in its statement.

An internal review determined the vials were not replaced after temporarily being removed to access other items, the statement said.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said the state is not aware of a similar situation occurring anywhere else in Wisconsin.

The first on-site Covid-19 vaccinations at skilled nursing facilities around the state began Monday as part of the Pharmacy Partnership Program for Long-Term Care, utilizing Walgreens or CVS pharmacies to provide free vaccinations for residents and staff. 

That program uses the Moderna vaccine and has allocated 56,800 doses, a DHS announcement said. 

The other vaccine manufactured by Pfizer arrived in the state on Dec. 14. The first vaccinations using Moderna came on Dec. 22. 

On Tuesday, the DHS reported that 47,157 doses had been administered statewide.

Meanwhile, testing for Covid-19 continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays at the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds in Cedarburg and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays at the county Public Transit Center, 410 S. Spring St. in Port Washington.

Testing at the Washington County Fairgrounds, however, has been shut down “until further notice” due to “mechanical issues,” according to the Washington Ozaukee Health Department website.

Phone calls to the health department seeking clarification were not returned by press time.

The health department also sent out a mass email last week that inadvertently included the email addresses of everyone to whom it was sent, violating federal privacy laws.

The email was sent to those who had registered for tests to let them know that testing at the fairgrounds could be interrupted due to poor weather conditions.

In a follow-up email, Public Health Director Kirsten Johnson said the offending email contained no other personal information and asked anyone who received it to delete it and not share it.

“The Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department has made the determination that no such emails will be sent out in the future,” Johnson said. “Any mass email communications will be reviewed prior to distribution.”

The number of Covid-19 cases in Ozaukee County continued to drop, according to the health department website

On Tuesday, there were 436 active cases. down from 548 the week before and a high of 1,300 on Nov. 20.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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