ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local lawmakers are calling for a review of the University of Rochester Medical Center after an internal email suggested the center created a special COVID-19 vaccine route for the major donors.

Monroe County Legislature Rachel Barnhart and Rochester City Councilmember Mary Lupien said URMC has to explain.

MORE | URMC email suggests special vaccine route for donors

The Medical Center released a statement calling it a mistake adding, “URMC leadership did not know about it and did not approve it.”

However those leaders said 26 individuals were able to get the vaccine through a “special clinic”

The request for review was also sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and Attorney General Leticia James.

The full letter is below:

Dear Dr. Mangelsdorf,

Like many community residents, we were disturbed to learn about an email sent by University of Rochester Medical Center staff suggesting donors and clients of the Executive Health Program, a concierge health service, get special access to Covid-19 vaccines. The URMC’s said that the email was sent in error, but 26 concierge patients still received the vaccine.

Right now, our constituents are scrambling to get vaccinated, as demand vastly outpaces supply. People are spending hours online to obtain an appointment. Others are driving hours to other cities to obtain the vaccine. Still others cannot access the technology or transportation necessary to get vaccinated.

The hospital system simply has more explaining to do. We call on you to commit to a transparent and independent review of what happened in this incident. The public would also be well-served for this review to encompass all of the hospital’s vaccinations through the present, including an accounting of staff who are not public-facing who received the vaccine.

Your institution has nonprofit status because of its commitment to the community. Although URMC does an incredible amount of good, including heroic efforts to serve patients during this pandemic, there needs to be accountability when mistakes are made. This incident has undermined public trust in a vaccine rollout already plagued by logistical issues and inequality.

We are also sending this letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Leticia James for consideration of an inquiry.


Rachel Barnhart, Monroe County Legislature District 21
Mary Lupien, Rochester City Council East District