QuickMed issues response to 21 News Watchdog investigation into Youngstown schools Covid test spending
The urgent care company that the Youngstown School district purchased over $3 million in Covid tests from has issued a statement regarding the number of tests purchased with federal dollars.
In the statement, QuickMed CEO Lena Esmail points out that as a "dedicated health partner" to the Youngstown schools, the district was better situated than others to provide more testing on site in their four wellness clinics prior to students returning to class.
The statement amplifies Justin Jennings made to 21 News in a Watchdog Investigation when asked how he justified the spending.
In that story, Jennings said, "We were trying to make sure that our community had them. Like I said, we were the most under-vaccinated community....and we knew we were coming back to school and we wanted to make sure our students and families didn't test postive to bring them back into school. I can't be punished for being a forward thinker."
Esmail also points out in the statement that there were shortages in available tests and that the 1,000 Youngstown received from the state would not have been adequate.
21 News original story pointed out, however, that the state did not set limitations on the number of free tests a district could receive and that local giveaways were met with high demand, running out after thousands were distributed.
Read the full QuickMed statement below:
"As the dedicated health care partner of Youngstown City School District, as well as 5 other local and regional school districts, we felt it was imperative to clarify any misinformation or misrepresentation that has occurred through inconsistencies in information received in a story reported On 3/29/2023 by WFMJ titled “ YCSD school leader spent $3.6 million on covid tests when state offered kits for free”.
Factually, in April 2021, the CDC and the Ohio department of Health issued a Federal K-12 COVID 19 Testing Guidance where the CDC was quoted to detail “the CDC is strongly emphasizing AGGRESSIVE screening testing as a mitigation strategy in schools”.
The CDC provided resources for the “Voluntary Participation of Schools,” including the Rockefeller Foundation Covid-19 Testing in K-12 Settings A Playbook for Educators and Leaders , which was a strategic playbook that instructed schools on recommendations to roll out mass screenings.
This included securing funding for testing from multiple avenues such as to “Tap into existing district financial resources” in order to secure enough testing to test for symptomatic, asymptomatic, and preemptive cohort screenings.
The article may mislead the reader into the assumption that the state or local health district had the supplies necessary to support testing within the YCSD, when in reality, the minimal 1000 tests given to the district would not dent the voluntary initiative YCSDs CEO chose to participate in, according to guidance given by the CDC.
The State and local health districts not only faced public and consistent testing shortages, but the recognition that an extremely vulnerable population would have limited access to acquiring testing was at the forefront of the decision to follow the CDC’s guidance to aggressively test.
Other school districts voluntarily opted out of the recommendation, and it was largely due to logistics of having either a telehealth or onsite provider available to proctor or administer the test, the CDC recognized these as barriers to testing. YCSD, with an existing partnership with QUICKmed, already had 4 full-service wellness clinics with providers readily available to administer tests, something no other School district in NE Ohio had as a resource.
It is unfortunate that the article failed to illustrate the advantages and variable differences both in the population of the YCSD and in the difference in healthcare resources that allowed the district to follow in accordance with the guidance set out by the CDC, when other districts could not. Lastly, in partnership with QUICKmed, Akron Public schools participated in cohort athletic testing on asymptomatic students as a condition of participation, where QUICKmed acted as the vendor and administrator of the testing, as did YCSD, contrary to what was published.
QUICKmed is proud to serve the YCSD and the Youngstown community as a whole. We hope that this factual information brings clarity to this specific topic. We also hope that better due diligence, and perhaps a consultant in the specific field of reference is used, as not to confuse readers with little insight to CDC guidance at the time of the pandemic in schools and the appropriateness of mass screenings in a vulnerable population.
We hope in the spirit of true unbiased reporting, that this information is disseminated in the same fashion that the initial and perhaps misleading, story was issued.
Thank You, QUICKmed Urgent Cares, Primary Cares, and Specialty Clinics."