The Mount Sinai hospital system has abruptly canceled all scheduled first-dose coronavirus vaccinations for members of the public — and is reportedly blaming the reallocation of supplies to government-run inoculation sites.
The mass cancellation was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the hospital network after first being reported Tuesday by Gothamist.
“Unfortunately, due to sudden changes in vaccine supply, we have been forced to cancel existing public vaccination appointments,” said Lucia Lee. “All persons impacted were notified via email and text messages.
“Upon delivery of additional vaccine, we will reopen vaccination appointments for eligible patients,” Lee continued. “We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.”
But privately, some at the hospital network fear that Mount Sinai may have administered its last vaccine to the public, according to Gothamist.
In a Sunday letter obtained by the outlet, chief medical officer Dr. Vicki LoPachin informed Mount Sinai staffers that state and city officials “revised their vaccine allocation plan” for this week in light of the recent rapid expansion of those New Yorkers eligible for inoculation.
“We, like other health systems across the region and the state, will be getting no new supply of first-dose vaccines this week,” LoPachin reportedly wrote.
Consequently, Mount Sinai was forced to cancel all scheduled appointments for members of the public to receive the first dose of the two-dose vaccine, LoPachin reportedly announced, with appointments for Mount Sinai employees to get the first-dose being cut off after Feb. 23.
Existing second-dose appointments will still be honored, according to the report.
LoPachin went on to imply that the crux of the issue is the shift of vaccine supplies away from hospitals and toward city- and state-run mass inoculation sites, the outlet said.
A Mount Sinai source told Gothamist that there is a pervasive fear that the shift is more than temporary.
“For patients, it’s tough,” said the insider, a health care administrator working in vaccine distribution speaking on condition of anonymity. “Our calendar was blown out the first day that the appointments were open.”
The administrator estimated that the appointments canceled at Mount Sinai numbered in the thousands.
A state official insisted the hospital system will still get doses in the future — though didn’t specify how many.
In an unsympathetic statement, a spokesman for the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed Mount Sinai for scheduling beyond its means.
“We have repeatedly told providers not to schedule appointments for the following week until they are notified how many doses they are being allocated,” said Jack Sterne.
“We are not sure why Mt. Sinai continues to ignore State guidance, put themselves in a situation where they have to cancel appointments, and create this hardship for their staff and patients — but every other hospital has been able to follow the rules, and seeing as Mt. Sinai has had to cancel appointments twice in two months, we are reaching out to discuss the issue with their senior leadership.”
By contrast, a spokesperson for the NYU Langone hospital network told Gothamist that, while their vaccine allotment is down this week, they do not need to cancel appointments.
“We won’t make an appointment unless we have vaccine in hand to do so,” the spokesperson said. “That’s been our policy/system throughout.”
New Yorkers who had appointments lined up through Mount Sinai were enraged by the cancellations — and being forced back into the competitive race to secure a slot for a shot.
“I got the [cancellation] email yesterday and was fuming,” Joyce Hartman, a 73-year-old Upper West Sider who had an appointment for Monday, told The Post.
“It’s not just that I have to wait longer to get vaccinated, which is frustrating enough,” Hartman said.
“But equally frustrating is the cause: Why move vaccines from a private site to a public site if it’s all going to the same population? Mount Sinai is just where I happened to get an appointment. I would have been just as happy to go to a city or state facility, but that’s not how it worked out. So now I have to go through this entire process again — for what?”
Ali Mahdi had worked to arrange appointments for both of his parents — Feb. 24 for his 79-year-old father, and March 3 for his 69-year-old mother — only to see them vanish.
“I was shocked because my father has been going through a lot,” said Mahdi, of learning of the change in plans. “He has Parkinson’s. He had back surgery in November, which failed. We just wanted to get him vaccinated.
The “irate” Mahdi said that he called Mount Sinai on Tuesday, but could do little more than vent.
“I said, ‘I went through proper channels, I got the appointment, and now you’re telling me no. How is that acceptable?’” he said. “When I made the appointment it was for people 65 and above, and now we’re mixed in with everybody else. How do we get it now? My father’s at the highest risk possible. At least give us a timeline of when we can reschedule.”
City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the city council’s health committee, told The Post that hospitals must remain part of the vaccination network.
“Hospitals need to have a central role in vaccinating patients with underlying conditions,” said the Manhattan Democrat. “Now that supplies are increasing and becoming more reliable, it’s time to reexamine the restrictions on longer term scheduling.”