Gramercy Pediatrics may not be an intensive care unit, but doctors there say even though they work at a private practice, they're still front-line workers, and they're growing frustrated with the state's plan to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We are out here every day seeing patients, swabbing kids for COVID and risking our lives, and it seems like New York State has forgotten about us" said owner Dr. Dyan Hes.
Gramercy Pediatrics offers coronavirus testing, but Dr. Hes said neither she nor her staff can get vaccinated right now. The state's vaccine plan prioritizes high-risk hospital workers. She said leaving health care workers in private practice is just poor planning.
"They don't think about all the primary care physicians, internists, geriatriatricians who are working with sick patients every day," Dr. Hes said.
"We are the ones that are facing these sick kids and their sick parents that are coming in to be tested." said Dr. Karen Browner-Elhanan.
We reached out to the New York State Department of Health and Governor Andrew Cuomo's office about what critics worry is a dangerous oversight. Health officials responded with a statement, saying, "As Governor Cuomo has repeatedly stated, the first New Yorkers to receive the vaccine will be high-risk hospital workers, nursing home residents, nursing home staff, followed by all long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS workers, and all other frontline health care workers."
But Gramercy Pediatrics' physicians are still unclear about when they will be able to get vaccinated.
"There's zero communication" Dr. Hes said. "Nobody has reached out to us."
They said they hope the state changes course and makes all licensed physicians eligible for the vaccine. Until then, they'll protect themselves as best they can.
"As long as I continue to do what I'm doing, wearing my protective equipment, social distancing, washing my hands, I will be safe indefinitely," said Dr. Daniel Wolloch.