In the Shadow of Cape Fear Valley

Due to the nature of our for-profit health care system, a tremendous responsibility lies with regional hospitals to help coordinate and distribute the Covid vaccine. Here in Fayetteville, Cape Fear Valley Hospital needs to step up to the plate and save lives in the community that keeps it in business.

“We Saw this Coming”

Thus far, the only people in Fayetteville that have been vaccinated are the employees of Cape Fear Valley. Our hospital got right to it and started shooting up its staff as soon as the doses arrived in Mid-December:

“We’re very excited and proud that we have three of the very first 11 hospitals (in North Carolina) to receive the vaccine so we’re very excited about that,“ said Chris Tart, the vice president of professional services.

Tart oversees the hospital’s pharmacy services which bought a special freezer in the summer to make sure staff was ready for the vaccine.

We saw this coming and went ahead and purchased deep freezers and have them in strategic locations on backup generators, temperature monitoring and very secure locations, as well as a lot of backups,” he explained.

Fayetteville’s not special in this regard. Health care workers were put at the front of the line across the country. There are good policy reasons for this, but wouldn’t it have been better to vaccinate the elderly, first, instead of young, healthy hospital workers? Wouldn’t this have saved more lives?

But “life” is not always the linchpin of American medicine. We’ll need your method of payment, first, sir.

N.C. Lags Behind

North Carolina can’t seem to figure out the vaccine distribution quandary. We’re told the plan is advancing, but the evidence doesn’t support the talking points. Per yesterday’s news:

Some 462,000 doses of vaccine have been shipped to North Carolina since mid-December, but only a fraction of them have been administered. 

North Carolina’s vaccination rate so far is 966 per 100,000 people, lagging behind most other states in the country. That number for most states is between 1,000 and 2,000.

Based on the CDC’s vaccination rate data, only five states have a lower rate than North Carolina; Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas and Arizona.

You never want to be compared to Alabama and Mississippi when it comes to health care. Yet, here we are.

Fewer Doses for Cumberland?

All we hear about is a vaccine “shortage,” yet, per the CDC’s data, North Carolina is literally “sitting on” about 200,000 vaccination doses, today. Life saving medicine is stuck in freezers across the state in the middle of the bleakest winter we’ve had in 100 years. Schools are closed because of it. Businesses are shutting down. People are dying. It’s inexcusable.

Now here’s the scary part for us, locally:

“To increase the pace of vaccinations, DHHS sent a letter to all hospitals and local health departments alerting them that future vaccine allocations will be modified based on the number of vaccines administered that they have reported to the state,” the department said.

If you sit on your allocation of doses, you get less in the future. It’s that simple.

So what’s our hospital doing? They “saw it coming” and bought freezers and backup generators to keep the doses cold for their employees, but I can’t tell you what their plan is to help vaccinate everyone else. Maybe they are doing something, but they’re not letting the public know about it. The only thing about Covid on the hospital’s website is the new visitor restrictions they put in place.

Cape Fear’s Failure to Lead

I often talk about the blurry lines between public and private interests and the legitimate role of government intervention into both spheres. For example, Fayetteville’s one-sided public-private partnership with Prince Charles Holdings got us an unfinished 17-million dollar parking deck downtown.

But what do you do when you’re dealing with people’s lives?

The American health care system blurs the hell out of public and private interests due to the mix of funds that keep it running. Hospitals like Cape Fear Valley have a difficult dance to perform. But do not forget that the number one priority for a business entity is survival. The hospital only stays open if it makes money, whether it comes from the government, private insurance, or your checking account.

So what happens when a massive public health crisis arises that requires the distribution of a vaccine, but there isn’t a financial incentive for a local hospital to assist?


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