North Carolina health system CEO apologizes for COVID-19 vaccine sign-up problems

The CEO of a North Carolina health system apologized publicly to people trying to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments and said the system is working to resolve problems with its phone system as soon as possible, according to WBTV.

The news station reported that more than 7,000 people in North Carolina's Burke County had received their first dose as of Jan. 22.  

However, Kathy Bailey, president and CEO of Morganton, N.C.-based Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, acknowledged during a Jan. 22 press conference that people were frustrated with issues with the phone system when trying to make appointments at its clinics. "We apologize for the long holds, the dropped calls, and at times not being able to speak to a live person," she said. "We've all experienced this kind of frustration, but not with something as important as a lifesaving vaccination."

She said Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge recognizes the importance of this issue to the public, and it is working as fast as possible to address it. 

"We want the public to know we are getting thousands of calls at once. For example, [the week of Jan. 22], we received 23,000 phone calls in one two-hour period. That's going to crash most any system. We've made adjustments, we've made improvements, and we've added staff to handle the phone calls," said Ms. Bailey.

The health system began making appointments for those ages 65 and older the week of Jan. 22.  Ms. Bailey said the number of appointments that can be made is based on the number of vaccines that are allocated by the state.

Burke County Health Director Rebecca McLeod said the county and hospital will each get 200 doses from the state next week, according to WBTV.

Listen to the entire news conference here.


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