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Lawsuit claims Molokai health center administered expired vaccines to children

A new lawsuit claims Molokai's only federally-qualified health center administered expired vaccines to children.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 7:01 PM HST|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 10:10 PM HST
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KAUNAKAKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A lawsuit filed this week claims Molokai Community Health Center administered expired vaccines to children.

The health center was under fire back in 2019 when it shut down for several days due to staff shortages. Since then, residents held protests and demanded a change in leadership.

A new lawsuit claims violations are still being made.

Lorna Keliipuleole was born and raised on Molokai. She has been working in the medical field on island for nearly a decade.

“I like working with patients. My parents are getting older now, so I can put my practice there also,” Keliipuleole said.

Keliipuleole was hired by MCHC as a medical assistant in 2020. Shortly after she started, she was told to administer vaccines to children. She claims she was never properly trained.

“When I did my first child, she looked at me, we’re getting ready, and she said, ‘You like try?’ That’s exactly what she told me. And I looked at her and I said, ‘OK,’” said Keliipuleole.

Keliipuleole said one day it was extremely busy and they were severely understaffed.

Two children came in for hepatitis shots.

Her supervisor checked the vials and Keliipuleole vaccinated them.

Later, Keliipuleole realized the vaccines were expired.

She said she immediately reported her mistake to her supervisor.

“I felt bad already. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I hope nothing will happen to the kids.’ I was kind of stressing that day already. So, she said she’ll let administration know. I said, ‘OK, fine.’ And I waited, nothing happened,” she said.

Keliipuleole said after waiting five weeks, she reported the mistake directly to the administration.

Keliipuleole’s lawsuit states that’s when her supervisor began retaliating against her and she was eventually fired.

The lawsuit demands change.

“Anybody whose kids have been subjected to medical error would want to know as soon as possible,” said Keliipuleole’s attorney Andrew Daisuke Stewart. “Somebody either dropped the ball or they’re trying to sweep it under the rug … I think definitely somebody in a position of authority should accept responsibility and there should be a changing of the guards.”

The health center issued a statement disputing the claims:

“The health and safety of our patients and staff are our top priority. We disagree with the claims made by this former employee and believe the facts will be revealed as the legal process unfolds. Molokai Community Health Center continues to meet the highest levels of compliance required by the state and federal government.”

Molokai Community Health Center

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