Medical professionals held back from vaccinating the community by red tape

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 4:20 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Local Anesthesiologist Daryl Fenio spent the month of April 2020 working in New Jersey and New York helping treat the very first surge of coronavirus patients.

As a Nevada physician, she needed approval to practice medicine in the other states.

“I had my license in one hour,” says Dr. Fenio.

With her desire to help, it is no surprise then that she is more than willing to volunteer and administer shots to local residents in need of the COVID-19 vaccine.

She was directed to a website SERVNV.ORG to do so.

“At the end of it, it said they were going to have to do a full background check on me just to give a vaccine,” says Fenio.

The website is a clearing house of sorts which screens medical professionals so they can volunteer at the county level. A look at the fine print and appears it is designed to sign up medical volunteers for a “future” emergency.

However, the coronavirus is a pandemic happening now. And Dr. Fenio says the screening needed to give a shot will never get local medical professionals where they are needed in a timely manner.

“When I originally got a background check to work, as anyone does, it took a couple of weeks,” she says. Dr. Fenio says she doesn’t mind a check of her credentials or a background check, she welcomes it.

However, she wonders if in these times, would it not be easier to make one or two calls.

One: to the state board of medical examiners to see if she is in good standing. She is.

And if she has privileges at the local hospitals. She does.

Both of those agencies know her current status and have already done the critical investigations into her background.

“If I am allowed to go into all these hospitals and take care of patients,” she says. “I am not sure what is holding up me being able to volunteer my time which I am so willing to do; to give a muscular injection into the arm,” says Dr. Fenio.

Dr. Fenio says in these times, state and local governments need to think out of the box if they are serious about delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to the people who need it.

“Don’t let the bottleneck be how many providers you have to provide this vaccine,” she says.

We tried to contact the state agencies who oversee immunizations and SERNV.ORG. They have not responded.

We wanted to know how many medical professionals currently practicing and who have signed up through SERNV.ORG are currently working in county vaccination clinics. What is the cost of a background check and who pays for it? How long does the background check take?

One nurse who is already delivering the shots at a local hospital told KOLO 8 News Now, she filled out the forms one month ago and is waiting for confirmation and direction as to where she can volunteer.

“Today I call on all Nevadans who have critical skills to join which I am calling our Battle Born Medical Corps,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak back in April 2020.

Some local physicians and other licensed medical professionals say, they heard the call.

But because of bureaucracy, they say, they cannot heed it, at least expeditiously.

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