Chicago hospital to resume COVID-19 vaccinations after doses withheld amid controversy

Loretto Hospital in Chicago will resume its vaccination program after the city paused it in March amid reports of ineligible people receiving vaccines from the 122-bed safety-net facility, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The city's public health department said April 16 that it will open a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in partnership with the hospital, to be located on-site at Loretto. The site will open April 21 initially to serve residents in the Austin community area of Chicago's West Side.

The city will initially manage all operations at the new vaccination clinic at the hospital, while Loretto will provide clinical staff to administer shots and will work with community-based organizations and the city on vaccination-related efforts, said Chicago officials. The site will operate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

News of the new vaccination site at Loretto comes after the city revealed March 18 that it was withholding COVID-19 doses from Loretto after reports of improper COVID-19 vaccinations. In March, Loretto CEO George Miller Jr. acknowledged that he authorized the hospital March 10 to vaccinate restaurant, housekeeping and other hotel support personnel at Trump Tower. Block Club Chicago and NPR affiliate WBEZ also reported that ineligible judges in Chicago's Cook County were offered doses by the hospital.

Mr. Miller was suspended for two weeks without pay. The hospital's board on March 24 accepted the resignation of COO and CFO Anosh Ahmed, MD.

"More than anything, our goal is to get this lifesaving vaccine to the residents of Austin and their neighbors on the West Side who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady, MD, said in a news release. "Loretto has acknowledged there were problems with their previous vaccination efforts and apologized for their mistakes. After reviewing the full accounting of past vaccine administered, and after multiple productive discussions with the team at Loretto about our expectations, we are ready to work in partnership with them to help get vaccine to a community that needs it."

Edward Hogan, chair of the Loretto board, thanked the city for the guidance and attention it has given the hospital.

"In addition to launching a new vaccination site at the hospital starting next week, we look forward to the work we have ahead of us in rebuilding trust with our community and re-doubling our efforts to continue providing high-quality healthcare services to residents throughout the west side," Mr. Hogan said in a statement shared with Becker's. "Nothing is more important than ensuring that our community knows that we are more dedicated than ever to serving them."

According to the hospital, Loretto provided nearly 15,700 vaccinations as of March 15, and 99.2 percent of all vaccinations went to residents deemed eligible per city guidelines.

Read more about the clinic here. Read the Chicago Tribune report here


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