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URMC to end special privilege health programs for wealthy donors, others

The University of Rochester Medical Center will end its Executive Health and special patient services programs.The move comes after widespreadcommunity outrage over URMC giving wealthy donors access to COVID-19 vaccines through a clinic meant for employees. The clinic was run through the Executive Health Program. WXXI Newsfirst reported the story last month.

An announcement Thursday morning on the URMC website stated that special patient services will be discontinued immediately, and the Executive Health Program will be phased out by June 30.  

“Discontinuing programs that focused on a relatively small number of privileged individuals will enable us to improve access to services of exceptional quality for all patients,” Dr. Mark Taubman, URMC's CEO, said in the statement.

Twenty-six non-employees who are well-connected to the university received vaccines through the employee clinic in mid-January. In a letter dated Jan. 31, UR President Sarah Mangelsdorf and Taubmanapologized for the preferential treatment those donors and URMC board members received. Two days later, more than 20 members of the Strong Hospital Ethics Committee signed a letter to university leadershipcalling for an end to “programs of special privilege” at URMC.

According to the medical center, the Executive Health Program was established in the 1980s to serve as a primary care office for executives of companies that paid for the service. Patients received daylong, in-depth consulting and care for a $4,500 fee. Special patient services is not a formal program, but helps patients well-connected to the university schedule appointments and manage paperwork related to their care. A URMC doctor who emailed WXXI News said it would take five separate referrals over several months to line up this treatment for any typical individual.

The URMC announcement states, “Executive Health Program contracts include a 30-day cancellation option that URMC will exercise, honoring upcoming scheduled appointments as affected patients are directed to new providers over the next four months.” 

Five full-time employees who support the specialized programs will be reassigned within URMC.

The full statement from the medical center is availablehere.

Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.
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