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Ethical Dilemma with Vaccine PPE?

Updated | Posted

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 20 years experience.

cdc-covid-vaccine-supplies-for-resell.jpg.7b2f4ec3c17ddf8e3b828c7823a21f1c.jpg

I am currently on a temporary contract vaccinating for a retail pharmacy.  It's awesome!  Most of the pharmacists and all the contract nurses are awesome!  The other's involved in greeting and organizing the butt-load of patients are usually young with such a bright future.  I love them all!! 

Here's my thing.......

The retail pharmacies receive their vaccine PPE supply and all the other stuff needed to administer vaccines from the CDC (our taxes - more on this in a minute).  They get boxes shipped regularly with face shields, alcohol pads, syringes, needles, surgical masks, vaccine cards.  Sharps containers and gloves are also shipped regularly.  When the store pharmacies were vaccinating the LTC's, the stores that held vaccine clinics in the LTC's also received gowns, N95's, surgical masks.  CDC also pays for the bandaids from the store stock.  These retail places pay nothing for any of these supplies. 

This is in my area, don't know about other areas.  But I think it's all the same with the retail pharmacy part of the vaccine effort.

Today, I found out something when unpacking and organizing the supplies from a bunch of boxes that have been sitting around for at least 3 weeks.  There were tons of syringes and needles..  Tons of face shields, alcohol pads and surgical masks.  All of these items in my estimation will go unused because they keep shipping them and the boxes continue to stack up!  It's too much.  And OMG the plastic bags that will go into a landfill drives me crazy (that's for another post).

I had an idea today.  I am willing to go around to the retail pharmacies and collect the excess (and I mean e.x.c.e.s.s) supplies and find a way to donate these badly needed supplies to underserved areas, like homeless shelters and hospitals that are known to still NOT provide the proper PPE to frontline workers.  Even grocery store workers, childcare centers.  But mostly underserved areas. 

When I asked the store manager today if I could take a box full of face shields and surgical masks to the county clinic for the homeless, I was told that the store's district managers are planning to create barcodes so that item's can be SOLD at the store!  This means that this huge corporation is trying to plan a way to sell these leftover items that are paid for with OUR TAX DOLLARS for their own corporate benefit.

I am p*ssed off about this.  It's completely unethical.  It bothers me even if these retail places plan to buy these leftover supplies and then sell them.  I want to report this to someone.  I am not sure who will listen.  The CDC?  My Senators? HHS? MY State?  This is our money that's being played with.  Maybe the stores should be shipping back excess supplies.  But they are  not!

After writing this post, It's become cleat that it's not really a dilemma for me.  I know what I want to do.  But dang.  Who will listen?  Thanks for reading.

WOW. I completely agree with your concerns. I don't know for sure, but the CDC seems like a good place to start:

General CDC Info Contact Form: https://wwwn.CDC.gov/dcs/contactus/form

CDC Office of Financial Resources (OFR) email:  OFRAnnouncements@CDC.gov

US Government Accountability Office: https://gao-fais.entellitrak.com/etk-gao-fais-prod/page.request.do?page=page.efileConfidentialNoRestrictionComplainantForm

EDIT: I think my 3rd link is actually the best place to start. "COVID-19 Update: Federal agencies will be responsible for ensuring that all the funds from the record $2 trillion stimulus package end up where they’re supposed to. GAO has been tasked with tracking that money. If you suspect waste, fraud, or abuse of stimulus funds, you can help us out by using FraudNet to report your concerns." https://blog.gao.gov/2020/04/14/as-aid-for-covid-19-arrives-so-might-fraud-heres-how-you-can-report-it/

Edited by mariebailey
add'l info

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

10 hours ago, CABGpatch_RN said:

  I want to report this to someone. 

PPE equipment sitting only 3 weeks,  still has a chance to be utilized. Nine months later still huge pile, then I'd be concerned that plans verbalized to bar code and sell for profit government supplies instead of RETURNING them for DHS stockpiling or donating opened boxes with intact packages PPE.

1. Start with reporting to pharmacy's Corporate Compliance hotline

If no response/concern over situation, then move up to

2 Department of Homeland Security (DHS ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Hotline to Report Fraud, Waste or Abuse: 1-800-323-8603 toll free

Quote

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) Hotline is a resource for Federal employees and the public to report allegations of employee corruption, civil rights and civil liberties abuses, program fraud and financial crimes, and miscellaneous criminal and non-criminal activity associated with waste, abuse or fraud affecting the programs and operations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

CABGpatch_RN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 20 years experience.

Thanks SO much for the replies.  Three weeks is kinda soon to be worrying about this, but the supplies keep coming in and stacking up.....in all the stores.  Also, I had a conversation with another vaccinator who said that after they finished with the LTC's, vaccinators were taking home leftover supplies - gowns, face shields, gloves, masks (including n95's)!  I was encouraged yesterday by the other person I was working with to "just take the box of face shields home."  I was appalled.  That's when I talked with the store manager and found out about the barcode thing. 

I mean really, I can't imagine that the store would do something so blatantly fraudulent. 

 

 

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 40 years experience.

45 minutes ago, CABGpatch_RN said:

Also, I had a conversation with another vaccinator who said that after they finished with the LTC's, vaccinators were taking home leftover supplies - gowns, face shields, gloves, masks (including n95's)!  I was encouraged yesterday by the other person I was working with to "just take the box of face shields home."  I was appalled. 

You are right; those supplies are not yours to take home. 

You say you asked permission to take some to donate to the county clinic for the homeless. I would not have even done that unless I had it in writing from the store manager.

CABGpatch_RN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 20 years experience.

5 minutes ago, Kitiger said:

You say you asked permission to take some to donate to the county clinic for the homeless. I would not have even done that unless I had it in writing from the store manager.

Oh for sure now in hindsight.  No way would I do that.

Leader25, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 38 years experience.

You think you are sure,you believe you are right but I would be careful with that type of complaint.Many an idealistic soul has received a huge wake up callmessing with corporate.Any of their lawyers can twist it around and make you the villan.

The place where I work gets supplies (based on insurance companies approval) paid for by Medicaid. What you have described sounds like Medicaid fraud. Supplies that are intended to be used for one patient are not to be given or sold to another. Nurses can get in big trouble over medical billing & medical waste.

CABGpatch_RN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 20 years experience.

19 hours ago, Leader25 said:

Any of their lawyers can twist it around and make you the villan.

I've been around in life for a while.  There is no way I would report anything using my actual identity.  Never.  There is always a way to do things anonymously.  😊