Alina Alonso

Does Palm Beach Health Dept. Director Alina Alonso Need To Resign?

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Suggesting 90 Year Old Residents Should Email For COVID Shot Appointments Is Outrageous.

We Just Registered The Domain Alonso Should Have Registered. We’ll Donate It For Free.

Alina Alonso
DR. ALINA ALONSO (FILE PHOTO/MARCH, 2020)

BY: ANDREW COLTON | EDITOR AND PUBLISHER
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BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Dr. Alina Alonso, the director of the Florida Health Department for Palm Beach County, has certainly had a difficult 10 months. Even if your job description includes preparing for a pandemic, no one really thinks it’s going to happen.

But in the months since COVID-19 became a reality, Alonso has been the often embattled face of the health department’s local efforts. We now ask whether she is the right person for the job.

While we don’t question her medical credentials, we can’t understand how a health department director in an area known for its senior citizen population could have been so ill-prepared for helping that population schedule life saving vaccinations.

Over the past two weeks, BocaNewsNow.com has received seemingly hundreds of phone calls from senior citizens exacerbated by Palm Beach County’s inability to schedule COVID vaccine shots. No one faults the health department for the Trump administration’s ineptitude in getting the vaccine to Palm Beach County. But Alonso — and her staff — shouldn’t have been surprised that tens of thousands of seniors would want it.

Yet the phone system created by the health department crashed minutes after it went online. That led Alonso’s health department to offer an email address, chd50feedback@flhealth.gov, something inexplicably difficult in a world where $11 and a GoDaddy account could have procured something like “seniors@pbccovidvaccine.com.” In the months to follow, mailboxes could have been created for “firstresponders@” “schoolstudents@” and more. It’s just not that hard. In fact, we registered “PBCCovidVaccine.com.” We’ll give it to the health department if someone asks. The domain could also be used for a scheduling system.

But the most concerning sign that Alonso may not be the right woman for the job is her response to a reporter during a news conference on Thursday. She was asked how senior citizens without smart phones or computers at home are supposed to email the health department to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. She seemed to have never considered that possibility. Her response, after a few moments of hesitation, is that they should find a friend or relative with a computer or smartphone and ask them to send the email.

This is just unacceptable.

Palm Beach County isn’t only Boca Raton where stereotypes suggest everyone has everything they need. Palm Beach County Commissioners — including Mack Bernard and Melissa McKinlay – are constantly offering reality checks about the true poverty that exists in underserved portions of our county. How, exactly, is an 80 year old living on food provided by a church in The Glades supposed to send an email?

Like many, we routinely point out Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ failings. But even the Governor can’t micromanage every county’s health department. This failure lies solely and squarely on Alonso’s shoulders.

If Alonso isn’t the problem, then she needs to solve the problem. Hire people who can manage. Hire people who can plan. Hire people who can think. It is hard to believe that during ten months of a pandemic — where a vaccine was inevitable — that no one under her command ever thought about how to schedule the distribution of that vaccine. This lack of planning is a failure, hurting the most vulnerable in the county she is paid $165,767 a year to protect.

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