San Jose hospital executive disciplined after teachers allowed to get coronavirus vaccine
A top executive at a San Jose hospital will be disciplined for his role in offering the coronavirus vaccine to teachers before they were eligible.
County officials cut off Good Samaritan Hospital’s vaccine supply last week after learning that teachers from a nearby school district were allowed to join the line, which should have only included healthcare workers and senior citizens.
The executive, Chief Operating Officer Gary Purushotham, remains employed with the hospital, which is reviewing the incident, spokeswoman Sarah Sherwood said Wednesday.
Sherwood would not specify the discipline, citing personnel privacy laws.
An email to the staff of the Los Gatos Union School District from Supt. Paul Johnson last week said Good Samaritan’s “Chief Operational Officer” had approved the vaccination arrangement.
In the email, obtained by the San Jose Spotlight , Johnson urged school staff to immediately schedule vaccination appointments at Good Samaritan by signing up online “under the healthcare buttons.”
At the start of the pandemic, school officials raised money to feed workers at two hospitals, including Good Samaritan, Johnson noted.
Johnson said he had received word the previous night that “Good Sam would like to offer vaccines to our [LGUSD] staff.”
“They mentioned that our kindness last year was not forgotten and how much they appreciated it,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson later clarified in a letter posted on the district’s Facebook page that the characterization about Good Samaritan returning a good deed was his own.
He apologized for the characterization and said he understood why people had concerns about the aborted vaccination program.
At a news conference Monday, Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams called Good Samaritan’s actions “very concerning.”
The hospital seemed to be “reaching out to a specific district” based on the appearance of “meals provided,” rather than to all school districts, he said.
California officials are prioritizing vaccinations for health workers, people who live or work at long-term care facilities and those 65 and over. Because of the scarcity of the vaccine, Santa Clara County has restricted the senior citizen group to 75 and over.
On Jan. 12, Good Samaritan said it was providing vaccines only to eligible healthcare workers.
Yet a week later, the hospital appeared to be “affirmatively suggesting” that school district employees commit perjury by “registering themselves as if they were healthcare workers,” Williams said.
At one vaccination clinic, a Times reporter watched as about 100 people were admitted without showing proof that they worked in healthcare.
The hospital said in a statement that it had mistakenly expanded eligibility to educators and child-care workers to avoid wasting doses that had already been thawed.
Williams, however, said the school district’s understanding of the situation “does not appear to be related to wastage.”
County officials have said they will provide Good Samaritan with enough vaccine for people to complete their second doses.
But the hospital will not receive any additional vaccine until it provides “sufficient assurances” and a concrete plan to follow state and county guidelines.
Get breaking news, investigations, analysis and more signature journalism from the Los Angeles Times in your inbox.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.