After being “flooded with complaints” about faulty and delayed results at COVID testing sites, City Council Member Julie Menin introduced legislation requiring the city to track problems called in on the 311 help line. Menin includes Roosevelt Island in her district.
by David Stone
Accountability for COVID Test Sites
Menin says her office has been “flooded with complaints from constituents that have gone to pop-up COVID test sites that promised several day test results and have never received their results, received them after several weeks or received incorrect test results.”
In one egregious case, she sent “a cease and desist letter to one such operator, PacGenomics, and referred that matter to the NY Attorney General’s Office who took action against the company.”
With not well-known pop-ups on what seems every street corner, Menin grew concerned after hearing so many complaints. Then, she got annoyed.
“I don’t know what happens.”
Wanting insight on how the City handles complaints, Menin assigned a staff member to call 311 and see how things were handled.
- On the first attempt, a 311 operator referred the staff member to a telephone number with the New York City Department Of Health and Mental Hygiene.
- On the second attempt, a staff member was referred to the New York State Department of Health. When the Operator was asked what would happen if we called them, the 311 operator replied “I don’t know what happens.” When the staff member was passed through to the NYS Department of Health, the agency had an automated message stating that “all complaints must be submitted in writing.”
- ·On the third attempt, the 311 operator stated the staff member should call either Equifax, Experian, and Transunion and gave their phone numbers. The staff member asked if the city was noting complaints about these testing sites, and the operator did ask for information about the name of the testing site and said they would forward it to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
In short, she found that the city was all over the place and collected almost no data at all.
COVID Test Site Accountability Legislation
Menin’s proposed new law would required the city to “create and track COVID-19 testing site complaints on their 311 website and mobile app. DoITT (NYC’s IT Department) would also be required to maintain a public website that updates daily on the number and nature of complaints received for each testing site, the agency each complaint was referred to, and the disposition of each complaint.”
Accountability starts with identifying the problem, then gathering real numbers on its impact.
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