When MaineGeneral Health put its financial donors and other insiders to the very front of the COVID-19 vaccination line for people 70 and older, it was an immoral and stupid decision (“MaineGeneral Health did not intend to offer ‘privileged access’ to COVID-19 vaccine, official says,” Feb. 4). As the hospital’s CEO and president, Chuck Hays is responsible. In some societies, he would have profoundly apologized and perhaps offered his resignation.

But in our society hospital administrations are rarely held to account. In this case, MaineGeneral should severely be held to account because its action literally could have life-or-death consequences — for people who did not get their vaccinations because some rich and connected people got theirs.

The hospital’s action also reinforces the impression that elites have rigged everything, fueling the wild conspiracy theories that have shown themselves to be so dangerous to democracy. It’s certainly not the way to convince people the medical system is looking out for them. And it taints the devoted MaineGeneral staff who have risked their lives to care for patients during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, though, some things are indeed rigged. What happened in Augusta is going on in some other hospitals across the country. As the Associated Press reported, in Rhode Island the state attorney general opened an investigation into two hospital systems that did what MaineGeneral did. In Washington State, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee rebuked a hospital system for offering priority vaccinations by special invitation to 110 donors who gave more than $10,000. An AG’s investigation of MaineGeneral would not be out of hand.

Usually, when things are rigged a sacred rule in our society is being followed: money rules. For another example, money rules through fat political-campaign contributions. Many poor people die every day because of the rule of money. But often its power is obscured.

In this instance, it’s extremely clear. The attempt by Hays to obscure what happened with his mealy-mouthed words about testing the appointment system is easily seen through.

Obvious to everyone, the appointment system doesn’t need to be tested with donors. It wasn’t elsewhere in Maine.

Lance Tapley lives in Augusta.

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