Brevard contract allows vaccines through company with ties to hospital already providing them
Screenshot via Brevard County

Craig Deligdish
OMNI Health manages facilities for Parrish Medical. Now it has a county vaccine contract.

Brevard County this week entered into a controversial contract with a private health care provider to help with surplus vaccines.

Among the stranger matters in the case, though, is that the head of the company has his own relationship with a hospital already contracted to give shots.

County Commissioners at a meeting this week approved a conditional contract with OMNI Health to help administer COVID-19 vaccines, as reported by Florida Today. The contract only applies in the event supplies of doses are higher than current infrastructure there, including a drive-through site run by the Department of Health can handle.

“What we are asking for may never happen,” said Dr. Craig Deligdesh, president of Omni Health, “but it strikes me as odd that we as a community or as a county pay somebody to distribute vaccine when we’re willing to do it at no cost to the county.”

Deligdesh made the case at the meeting this week that his shop can handle a higher influx of patients than Publix and other pharmacies partners with the state or Walmart and others working with the federal government. Earlier this year, he said, Omni officials were able to vaccinate 1,000 people in a day when 2,000 doses were directed there.

He also talked down the capacity for hospitals already in partnership with the state to handle demand, including Parrish Medical Center. That’s particularly odd as Deligdesh maintains a professional relationship with Parrish Healthcare.

Omni operates the Parrish Cancer Center, with Deligdesh serving as chief medical officer.

Before landing the county contract, Deligdish emailed state leaders and emergency management officials on March 1, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, State Emergency Response Team Chief  Kevin Guthrie, and several Brevard legislators asking, “Why does our ‘state’ keep sending vaccine to institutions in our state who don’t want it, aren’t capable of administering it and haven’t administered what the DOH has previously sent them?”

That seemed to include Parrish Medical Center. At the County Commission meeting this week, officials for OMNI noted hospitals receive their allotments of vaccines typically directly from the state. Deligdish said that’s led to a point where Florida remains in the bottom third of states in terms of population to be fully vaccinated.

Maria Stahl at the Brevard County Department of Health acknowledged the state prefers to direct vaccines directly to those who will administer the vaccine because of the fragility of doses.

The Omni team, meanwhile, suggested the state and current administrators aren’t able to keep track of the vaccines they have got. Meanwhile, there’s very likely a time in the future when there will be more than 8,000 doses of vaccine coming to the county each week as manufacturers step up production and the federal government increases its goals. Indeed, DeSantis on Friday promised to stay a step ahead of the federal government and would open vaccine access to all adults starting April 5.

Regardless, all the pitches made by Omni continuously talked down the capacity and even the capability of Parrish and other hospitals to handle demand.

Florida Politics requested comment from Parrish Health CEO George Militarian but calls placed after the county approval were not returned. Notably, the relationship between Parrish Health and OMNI has generated headlines before, with Diglidesh’s role central.

There’s serious potential for OMNI to pull in a payday should it have the chance to administer vaccines. An initial proposal to the county called for a $20 per shot administration fee, and while that was ultimately dropped before the agreement was approved, officials acknowledge the company will be paid through patient insurance.

That means Deglidesh could end up profiting, in part with taxpayer dollars, for administering vaccines when his own hospital is already assisting the county with that task for free; hospitals were paid through CARES Act funding, county officials explained at the hearing.

Indeed, County Commissioners Kristine Zonka and John Tobia, who both voted against the deal, noted the county may yet pay a price because it self-insures its own employees, and could end up paying OMNI to give them shots.

Zonka also raised some concerns that OMNI had a waiting list 20,000 long before it even landed the contract of people signed up to receive vaccines from the company, when even under the county contract it’s possible no shots will ever be administered through the company. Omni’s proposal to the county indicates it could offer up to 18,000 doses per week, even though the health system has only administered 2,000 total vaccinations.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


7 comments

  • K

    March 27, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    This article reads like a 3rd grader wrote it. Broad generalztions slurring an outstanding Doctor/CEO. Maybe the author chewed on too many lead crayons as a child but you get NO respect . Btw you get 5 stars for your Fake News perspective.

    • Frank H

      March 29, 2021 at 10:32 am

      Is this the same Omni Healthcare that had to pay more than $2,000,000.00 to settle a false claims act case with the federal government?

    • Frank Harrison, MD

      March 29, 2021 at 8:37 pm

      He spelled Dr. Deligdish’s name three different ways in a one page article. Do you think he really made it to third grade?

  • Jason Steele

    March 28, 2021 at 5:24 am

    In complete transparency I am the lobbyist for Omni Healthcare,I looked at the contract there is no out of pocket charge to any individuals receiving the vaccine. The initial $20 charge was taken out of the proposal so people would not have out of pocket expense Anyone who does not have insurance will receive the vaccine without charge , and anyone who has insurance will not be charged co pay , this is a good deal for everyone and we will need it when we are flooded with requests and vaccines next week when this opens up to everyone. The contract says that Omni can seek relief by charging people’s insurance if they have insurance, or seek grants from other agencies that are aiding with the vaccine efforts. The hospitals are doing a good job with what they have most of them have received Cares $ to provide this service. It is not logical to think these vaccine providers are going to do this for free and lose money.

  • D

    March 28, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    Why be such a negative Nancy if the company is ready to operate a program of giving mass doses of vaccines let them do it. Most seniors are not as computer savvy as one would think and are frustrated with the inability to get the vaccine for the past several months.

  • Sonja Fitch

    March 29, 2021 at 6:04 am

    Yep same as it ever is/was! The rich white folks are going to CONTROL every damn thing! I Until it Is so obvious and to late kills brown black poor and middle class humans! Vote Democrat up and down ballot for the elections in 2022!

  • Frank Harrison, MD

    March 29, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    In reality, there is no contract between the county and the OMNI. Deligdish may be a tongue twister, but spelling it three different ways in a one page article? Does anyone edit these articles or, fact check them for accuracy?????????

Comments are closed.


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