DENVER (AP) — A Colorado county public health report found a Colorado Springs vaccine clinic was operating without proper temperature storage for vaccines or social distancing, as well as having unmasked workers.
The Associated Press obtained the report on the Dr. Moma Health and Wellness Clinic by an unnamed El Paso County public health employee in response to a records request.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said it stopped vaccinations at the clinic after nearly 4,000 people got one or more doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at the facility.
“None of the people in the room were wearing masks. On the desk there were several silver trays loaded with filled syringes in a pile and a bowl with vaccine in it,” the report states. “I did not see any temp logs or vaccine coolers/fridges. There were no labels on any of the syringes.”
Elizabeth Higgins, a supporter of the clinic, said she could not provide a response to the allegations because of the ongoing investigation.
The clinic will hold a news conference at a later date once the health department’s investigation is done, said Higgins, a sports medicine trainer who does not work at the clinic.
“We are concerned about your concerns and at a later time we will be able to give you more advice,” Higgins said.
In a Facebook post in a public group, operator Sylvienash Moma defended her clinic and criticized the health department’s handling of the situation.
“When the clinic was asked to be shut down, no CDPHE had seen or requested to see my storage, refrigerator, temperature log, or anything of that nature since the onset of the first vaccination clinic day,” Moma wrote.
During the health department’s visit, Moma said, officials did not raise concerns about vaccine storage and handling to her.
“I took an oath to serve lives not destroy them,” Moma added.
There was no immediate response to an email sent to Moma’s clinic seeking further comment.
The day spa called Dr. Moma Health and Wellness Clinic is run by Moma, who has a doctor of nursing practice degree, according to her website. The degree includes advanced training in nursing skills and disciplines.
During the application process to administer vaccinations, “Dr. Moma met all minimum requirements for participation in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program and affirmed that her clinic would abide by the practices laid out in the program,” the health department said.
After consulting with the CDC, the department released guidance saying that people who received one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at Dr. Moma Health and Wellness should start their two-shot vaccination series over again.
Those who are unsure should wait at least 28 days before getting a new first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, with the follow-up shot 28 days later, the state health department said.
The El Paso public health employee visited the clinic on April 9 after receiving phone calls and emails with concerns and complaints about the clinic and the vaccines administered there.
The employee described the clinic’s operations as “very confusing and chaotic” and added, “At one point I assisted with traffic control.”
The employee also noticed a lack of social distancing with each vaccine room having two to four vaccinators while patients sat next to each other. Some 4-by-6-foot (1.2-by-1.8-meter) rooms had up to eight people in them, the report said.
The employee noted that several patient records showed “Dr. Moma” as the only vaccinator despite other employees giving vaccinations on site.
Each vaccination provider in the state goes through a formal enrollment process that is laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Applicants must demonstrate capacity to meet all COVID-19 Vaccine Program requirements prior to becoming an approved vaccine provider, the state health department said.
The state health department verifies medical licenses with the Department of Regulatory Agencies before approving COVID-19 vaccine providers. When providers enroll, they certify by signature that they understand the required protocol and have the proper equipment for vaccine storage and handling, the department said.
Patty Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.