State health officials are investigating whether a healthcare facility based in Orange County violated guidelines for the distribution of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, sending it to its network facilities based in New York who then allegedly administered it to members of the general public.
In a brief statement on Saturday from state Department of Health commissioner Dr Howard Zucker, investigators are looking at information that the Parcare Community Health Network, with sites in Brooklyn, Orange County and Manhattan, “Could have obtained fraudulently [the] Covid-19 vaccine [and] transferred to facilities in other parts of the state. “The alleged hijacking by Parcare Community Health Network violates” the state’s plan to administer [the vaccine] first to front-line healthcare workers, as well as residents and nursing home staff, ”Zucker said.
“We take this very seriously and the DOH will assist the State Police in a criminal investigation into this matter,” Zucker added. “Anyone who knowingly participated in this program will be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law. ”
The state’s investigation came five days after BoroPark News, a hyperlocal news publication, ran an article reporting that an office of the Brooklyn-based Parcare Community Health Network was offering hundreds of two-dose vaccines to people. older people, those considered to be at high risk or with “underlying health conditions.” According to the publication, the network has locations in Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Bensonhurst and East Harlem, with 2,800 vaccines available.
Gary Schlesinger, CEO and chairman of the health network, told the publication more and more vaccines are coming in every day. “Once you are on the list, we need to verify that you are a healthcare worker, are over 60 or have underlying conditions,” he told the publication.
A photo accompanying the article shows two men each holding a box of Moderna vaccine.
It is not known what penalties the Parcare Community Health Network would incur if found guilty of fraud.
A Google form was included in the article asking customers to provide their insurance information, if they are over 75, or a first responder.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in New York State last week, a week after Pfizer received emergency clearance to deliver the vaccine to the Empire State. Frontline healthcare workers are expected to receive the vaccine first, according to federal guidelines.
Parcare did not immediately respond to a request for comment through its answering service.