Ethical Dilemma with Vaccine PPE?

Updated | Posted
by CABGpatch_RN CABGpatch_RN, BSN Member Nurse

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 24 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 45 years experience. 11 Articles; 17,185 Posts

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

CABGpatch_RN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 24 years experience. 151 Posts

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 43 years experience. 1,671 Posts

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

CABGpatch_RN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 24 years experience. 151 Posts

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 39 years experience. 1,258 Posts

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.

Floor_Nurse

173 Posts

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

CABGpatch_RN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 24 years experience. 151 Posts

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.  ?

katkonk, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational health, Corrections, PACU. Has 25 years experience. 400 Posts

On 4/2/2021 at 5:23 AM, mariebailey said:

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/

I absolutely agree that the GAO is likely the best place to start. 

katkonk, BSN, RN

Specializes in Occupational health, Corrections, PACU. Has 25 years experience. 400 Posts

On 4/2/2021 at 7:18 PM, CABGpatch_RN said:

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. 

 

 

I worked on a huge government project in 2002, and at the end of it, the contractor I worked for did not want to ship all the left over items back to their corporate office to have to deal with (and did not want the expense of shipping from all the nationwide sites) and I was told, as manager of the medical site, to donate all the supplies to any FEDERAL entity that needed them.  I could give them to the VA, to any Federal office or clinic, etc. But it had to be FEDERAL, not state or county.  But, they explicitly told me that, and I would not do anything like that unless I had those specific instructions from someone in authority.  And I would want it in email form for proof. 

CABGpatch_RN

CABGpatch_RN, BSN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 24 years experience. 151 Posts

58 minutes ago, katkonk said:

I worked on a huge government project in 2002, and at the end of it, the contractor I worked for did not want to ship all the left over items back to their corporate office to have to deal with (and did not want the expense of shipping from all the nationwide sites) and I was told, as manager of the medical site, to donate all the supplies to any FEDERAL entity that needed them.  I could give them to the VA, to any Federal office or clinic, etc. But it had to be FEDERAL, not state or county.  But, they explicitly told me that, and I would not do anything like that unless I had those specific instructions from someone in authority.  And I would want it in email form for proof. 

Thanks so much for this reply.

As I continue to work at multiple locations, I am frankly disgusted with the disorganization and disregard for the supplies that are CONSTANTLY being sent to these places.  There are boxes upon boxes, some opened and partially used and some still sealed shut.  These supplies are stacked up all over the place.  There is absolutely zero rhyme or reason to anything.  The vaccinators (the people who should be helping organize this with the pharmacies) are completely disregarded and I personally feel like I am a burden to them.  It's ridiculous.  Any offer whatsoever to get them organized with their supplies is instantly poo-poo'd.  Unlicensed people are seemingly running the show and they have not a single clue what is what as far a s supplies go.  It's unsafe.

I haven't said anything to anyone or reported anything....yet.  I am of the right-fighter personality.  I am an ICU nurse. I will always speak up.   I have never experienced anything like this.  The corporate types treat me like absolute crap.  Some might say, why do you continue working there?  I say someone with some semblance of decency and ethics needs to be there (other vaccinators agree).  

I guess I just want it to be known that this is happening.  I feel like is it a HUGE mistake to trust these large in-store pharmacies with this project that is using millions of dollars from the CDC to run what they think is their show.  It's NOT their show.  We are all paying for this and we should demand better.  

Just sigh.   The benevolence of those who want to participate in helping is being shat upon by corporate idiots.