NewsMetro Detroit NewsInvestigations

Actions

Independent doctors feel 'forgotten' as COVID-19 vaccine is distributed

Pfizer Vaccine
Posted at 4:48 PM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 19:47:12-05

(WXYZ) — While the state continues its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to frontline health workers, some independent primary care physicians say they feel overlooked because of where they work.

“If I were to be employed by a large health system, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Dr Paul Thomas, who operates Plum Health, an independent private practice in Detroit and Farmington Hills.

This month, Dr. Thomas watched as other medical workers began receiving the COVID vaccine. Right now, the state is in “Phase 1A”, vaccinating “persons…who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infections materials."

Doctors affiliated with big hospitals like Beaumont and Henry Ford Health System were some of the first to be vaccinated this month.

While the doctors and staff at Plum Health regularly test people for COVID-19 and treats patients every day in person, they’ve received no vaccinations nor word on when they will.

“I just want to make sure that the people in my position aren’t forgotten,” Thomas said.

He's not alone. Dr. Phil Hellman, who operates a small private practice in Rochester Hills, said he feels like "the low man on the totem pole" because he's not affiliated with a big hospital.

While he didn’t see many COVID patients during the start of the pandemic, “now I have a lot and deal with it on a daily basis,” he said, “whether it’s testing or trying to get treatment for people that have it.”

What Hellman hasn’t received, he said, is word on when he and his staff will be vaccinated.

In a statement, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bob Wheaton did not provide a timeline for when independent medical providers can expect to be vaccinated.

“It is important that staff at our independent clinics receive the vaccine, particularly those that are in priority group 1A,” Wheaton said.

“We are working closely with our local health departments and health systems so that they are able to work with these clinics to have their staff receive the vaccine. The exact date they will be received depends on the location and the vaccine allocation at the local level.”

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at ross.jones@wxyz.com or at (248) 827-9466.