Board hears after-action review of freezer fail

Jan 6, 2021

Jan 6, 2021 — Yesterday was the first board of supervisors meeting of the new year, and the first one ever for First District Supervisor Glenn McGourty and Second District Supervisor Maureen Mulheren, who were sworn in on Monday. Judson Howe, the new CEO for the local Adventist hospitals, was also on hand for a bit of an after-action review of a malfunctioning hospital freezer that

set off a mad dash to vaccinate hundreds of people in two hours.

There were 830 Moderna vaccines in that hospital’s freezer, which exceeded eight degrees centigrade at 2am on Monday morning after the compressor and the malfunction alarm failed. The vaccine is not viable after more than twelve hours at room temperature. Because the malfunction was not discovered until 11:35 on Monday morning, hospital and public health staff reasoned that they had until 2pm to make sure none of the vaccines were wasted. Howe doesn’t know how much warmer than eight degrees the freezer got, but does not believe it was more than room temperature.

Yesterday morning, we reported that the freezer contained 340 vaccines that were part of the county’s 400-dose allotment of the Moderna drug, and that the rest was part of the hospital’s allotment. Another sixty, we said, had been set aside for a planned vaccine clinic at the fairgrounds in Ukiah. But in a brief interview after yesterday’s meeting, Howe said all 400 of the county’s doses were in the hospital’s freezer. The hospital gave 200 of those doses to public health, which then passed them along to the city of Ukiah and the jail, which set up emergency clinics to distribute the vaccines. The hospital gave the county an additional sixty doses from an additional cache of its own vaccines, which were being stored in a different freezer at the hospital in Willits. 101 northbound from Ukiah to Willits  was closed due a jackknifed big rig, but the southbound road from Willits to Ukiah was open.

We’ll hear details from hospital and county staff about the mass vaccination and the rollout of the vaccine program.