Rep. La Shawn Ford resigns from Loretto Hospital board after vaccine distribution controversy

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — State Rep. La Shawn Ford has resigned from the board of trustees at Loretto Hospital over how it handled vaccine distribution to people who were not yet eligible for the COVID-19 shot.

“I am very disappointed with the recent developments at the Loretto Hospital regarding its use of coronavirus vaccine entrusted to the hospital,” Ford said in a statemet Tuesday.

Ford said he submitted his resignation to hospital’s board chairman Monday because he disagreed with how the reprimand of the hospital leadership was handled.

“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, a safety-net hospital in the Austin community,” he said.

Two Chicago hospital executives were reprimanded for COVID-19 vaccine events that improperly gave shots to people far from the West Side facility, including one held for workers at Trump Tower.

Loretto Hospital’s Board of Directors released a statement Friday saying they had “taken appropriate actions of reprimand” against Loretto’s president and CEO, George Miller, and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Anosh Ahmed.

City health officials said last week they would withhold first doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the hospital as authorities investigate the events.

The backlash followed local media reporting on several vaccination events held outside the hospital, which primarily serves Black and Latino residents in West Side neighborhoods. The hospital was chosen last year to administer Chicago’s ceremonial first COVID-19 vaccination as part of the city’s efforts to encourage people to get the shot.

Block Club Chicago first reported vaccination events that hospital officials organized at Trump Tower in downtown Chicago and at the hospital president’s suburban church. On Monday, they reported employees at a Gold Coast watch shop, which Loretto’s COO frequents, were vaccinated as well.

WBEZ reported that county judges and family members improperly received vaccines from the hospital.

Dee Sutton, president of the union that represents nurses at Loretto Hospital, is pleading with the city to resume vaccine supply, after the department of public health suspended delivery of first doses.

“There are other administrators there, other management there that can step in and take over vaccine distribution,” she said. “It’s a drastic measure to solve that problem.”

A measure with no end in sight.

“I don’t expect them to be coming back online anytime soon,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “I fear that we’re going to hear more stories, which is why we pushed paused on giving Loretto new first doses.”

Ford told the Chicago Sun-Times that the reprimand did not include firing Miller or Ahmed but would not provide more detail. Another board member, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, also declined to specify the board’s actions, Block Club Chicago reported.

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