CEO of Chicago safety-net hospital pushed vaccines to his suburban church

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Loretto Hospital in Chicago faces scrutiny from city officials after it offered vaccinations to workers at Trump Tower, where the hospital's COO, Anosh Ahmed, MD, owns a condo, and administered shots to hundreds of members of the suburban church attended by the hospital's CEO, George Miller Jr., Block Club Chicago reported March 19.

The hospital, a 122-bed acute care facility on Chicago's West Side, administered shots to more than 200 members of Valley Kingdom Ministries International in Oak Forest, Ill. The church is attended by Mr. Miller, who is a friend of the church's leader, according to the neighborhood news website, which cites videos and documents it obtained. The vaccinations occurred in February, around the time people age 65 and older became eligible under city guidelines.

News of the shots administered to church members comes as the hospital faces scrutiny for offering vaccinations March 10 to 72 restaurant, housekeeping and other hotel support personnel at Trump Tower, where Dr. Ahmed owns a condo. NPR affiliate WBEZ reported March 18 that ineligible judges in Chicago's Cook County and their spouses were also offered doses by the hospital.

Hotel and restaurant workers are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. They are part of the city's 1C vaccine phase, which Chicago estimates will begin March 29. 

The city of Chicago said March 19 that it is withholding first COVID-19 doses from Loretto pending a review considering recent reports.

"While we will ensure that people who were vaccinated through Loretto can get their second doses on time, Loretto will not be receiving any first doses of vaccine next week," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement shared with Becker's. "The hospital will not receive first doses until we can confirm their vaccination strategies and reporting practices meet all CDPH requirements."

The hospital's board of directors also issued a statement in which it expressed disappointment about the recent reports.

The board said: "While it is the estimation of the board that all reported events stemmed from a sincere desire to vaccinate as many eligible Chicagoans as possible — especially people of color — as quickly as possible, we acknowledge that actions were taken that fall outside the scope of The Loretto Hospital’s core mission."

The board members added that the hospital "has taken appropriate actions of reprimand" against its CEO and COO "for their roles in mistakes of judgment made." The statement did not elaborate about the actions taken.

Loretto said it is reviewing all vaccination distribution practices at the facility and working to ensure strict adherence to the city's vaccine eligibility requirements and reporting protocols moving forward.

Read the full Block Club Chicago report here.


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