Chicago safety-net hospital linked to 3rd improper COVID-19 vaccination event

Loretto Hospital in Chicago offered COVID-19 vaccinations to ineligible people at a luxury watch and jewelry shop frequented by the hospital's COO, Anosh Ahmed, MD, Block Club Chicago reported March 22.

The hospital, a 122-bed safety-net facility on Chicago's West Side, offered the vaccinations March 3 during an event at the Geneva Seal shop in the city's Gold Coast neighborhood, according to the neighborhood news website. Ineligible people who work at businesses in the Gold Coast neighborhood, store owners and their family and friends were invited to get inoculated, according to the report, which cites sources close to the situation.

The hospital already faces scrutiny after offering vaccinations March 10 to 72 restaurant, housekeeping and other hotel support personnel at Trump Tower, where Dr. Ahmed owns a condo, and administering shots in February to more than 200 members of the suburban church attended by the hospital's CEO, George Miller Jr. NPR affiliate WBEZ reported March 18 that ineligible judges in Chicago's Cook County and their spouses were also offered doses by the hospital.

Groups eligible in Chicago's current phase, 1B, which began Jan. 25, include front-line essential workers, such as educators and grocery store workers, and people age 65 and older. Healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents were prioritized in the prior phase. 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 it is withholding first COVID-19 doses from Loretto pending a review of 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 this 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. Austin remains a priority neighborhood, and we continue to direct resources and vaccine[s] to the community through our Protect Chicago Plus program and other events."

The hospital's board of directors decided not to issue a statement after a meeting March 22. A spokesperson told Becker's Loretto has developed a corrective action plan and stands by the statement that was issued March 19. 

In the March 19 statement, the board expressed disappointment about the recent reports and said the hospital "has taken appropriate actions of reprimand" against its CEO and COO. No details about the actions were provided. 

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."

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. 

Meanwhile, Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford has decided to resign from the board of trustees at the hospital amid the recent reports, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"I submitted my resignation to The Loretto Hospital’s Board Chairman Edward Hogan because I strongly disagreed with how the reprimand of the hospital leadership was handled," he said in a statement obtained by the newspaper. "As the state representative for the hospital and as a resident in its service area, I will continue to fight for resources for The Loretto Hospital."

In a separate statement, Mr. Hogan thanked Mr. Ford for his service on the board and said the hospital will take advantage of his offer to continue assisting Loretto and those who live on Chicago's West Side.

Read the full Block Club Chicago report here. Read the full Sun-Times article here

This story was updated at 5:20 p.m. CT March 23. 


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Former Texas Medical Center CEO dies 

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