Rank Hath Its Privileges — Sometimes

Queue-jumping by the over-privileged and well-connected? Yep. Crappy judgment? Yep. Really, really bad optics? Yep. Some Toronto hospitals got a pasting in the press yesterday when this was revealed:

Hospital board members who received the scarce H1N1 vaccine defended their position at the head of the queue Monday, even after the province’s chief medical officer of health said they do not belong in the priority groups.

“I can’t speak for the other board members, but I did feel that if the medical staff had made the decision that it was important for all of us who are in and out of the hospital to be safe … then it behooved us to listen to their safety caution,” said Vicki Bismilla, vice-president at Centennial College, who received the shot as a member of The Scarborough Hospital’s board of directors.

The hospital, which is vaccinating all physicians, staff and volunteers, said it is a long-standing policy to provide flu vaccines to all volunteers, “which in our case includes members of our board of directors,” read a statement posted on the hospital’s website.

The over-exaggerated sense of importance and entitlement that hospital board directors have is astonishing. To be clear, board members, while they are volunteers, are not hospital volunteers in the the usual sense, i.e. men and women who wheel the magazine cart around or hand out warm blankets and coffee to patients. They absolutely don’t engage in direct patient care.

If directors are concerned they will contract H1N1 from strolling through the foyer at Mount Sinai, then they shouldn’t be going. Their presence isn’t that vital and their positions are semi-honorific in any case. Pretending they are vital members of the health care team is disingenuous, when they really seem to be gaming the system for their own benefit.


Ontario hospitals that are allowing their board members to jump the queue for the swine flu vaccine must stop the practice immediately, Health Minister Deb Matthews warned Friday.

Board members are not health-care workers and should not be given the shot unless they fall into one of the other five priority groups set out by the province, health officials added.

“It just isn’t right that a six-year-old has to wait and someone else with better connections can go ahead,” Matthews said.

It’s not OK. I have said it as strongly as I can and I will continue to say it: the priority groups must be respected.”

Amen and thank you.


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  1. #1 by J on Wednesday 18 November 2009 - 1213

    I hate to say that I pulled a connection to jump the que. Our hospital, in the US and ironically level 1 trauma; received a disturbingly small amount of vaccine. It was only being given to direct health care workers in the ICU and infectious disease floors. I want to sat that I feel bad about jumping the line. My floor had a nurse almost die from H1N1, went into DKA. I have a chronic illness and did not want to find myself in ICU.

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