CAMDEN, NJ — Virtua Health, which began vaccinating staff in Camden last December, says while addressing a technical glitch last month it found 5,000 open appointment slots.

A hospital official told TAPinto Camden that after some 300,000 people registered for appointments through the hospital system, Virtua realized at the end of January that some of the same individuals were appearing in the system for two or more appointments.

“In some extreme cases, a single person had 20 or more vaccine appointments. Clearly, this was a big problem and we needed to find a solution fast,” said Malik Bahar, Virtua Health’s access center director.

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A 200-person team ultimately made over 10,400 phones calls to address the issue - identifying that roughly 70% of appointments were duplicates.

The glitch has since been solved. However, since many of the people affected were seniors, a Virtua spokesperson said hospital staff went to additional lengths to manage any panic.

“We knew there was a lot of confusion and anxiety around the scheduling process, and so we wanted to add a more personal touch,” said Tom Gordon, chief information officer. “Our team did not want to cancel people’s duplicate appointments without explanation, but we knew it was essential to remove the erroneous appointments from the schedule to make room for other individuals. After thinking it through, we decided to start making calls.”

“Most of the members of our team do not have patient-facing roles, so it was rewarding to speak with and assist these patients directly,” said Maria Foschi, Vice President of technology. “We received so much appreciation; it made it clear we had done the right thing and made a difference.”  

As of Friday, Virtua has facilitated 56,000 vaccine doses between operations at the Burlington County coronavirus vaccine mega-site and its healthcare worker-focused clinic in Voorhees.

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