Strong Hospital ethics board: End special service for wealthy patients 

click to enlarge The University of Rochester Medical Center


The University of Rochester Medical Center

Members of Strong Memorial Hospital’s Ethics Committee are calling for an end to “programs of special privilege” at the University of Rochester Medical Center, following recent news that the center invited "well-connected" people to access a vaccine clinic meant for front-line healthcare workers.

More than 20 committee members signed a letter sent to University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf and URMC's chief executive officer, Mark Taubman, calling for the elimination of the Executive Health and Special Patient Relations programs. Those programs provide exclusive and extensive care to wealthy patients.

In the letter, dated Feb. 2, committee members expressed dismay that the hospital system invited donors to access a vaccine clinic meant for employees in mid-January. The clinic was run through the medical center’s Executive Health Program.

The story was first reported by WXXI News and was met with swift public outrage. WXXI News is a media partner of CITY.

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The letter stated, in part: “Programs, such as Special Patient Relations, perpetuate a two-tiered health system where those who are wealthy, and predominately white, enjoy unfettered access to health care while across the city and the region, countless others struggle to find access to the most basic levels of care. This type of preferential treatment also demonstrates a callous indifference to the larger social reckoning around issues of racial justice that define this cultural moment. These programs represent the worst of who we have been, not who we claim to want to be.”

Signatories also expressed their support for UR student demands, which include equity in vaccine clinic locations and distribution, data transparency, and the elimination of programs of special privilege.

The full letter is below:

Megan Mack and Evan Dawson are reporters for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.
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