Loretto Hospital leadership ‘reprimanded’ following vaccine distribution controversy

Coronavirus

CHICAGO (AP) — The city of Chicago on Thursday decided to withhold first doses of COVID-19 vaccines from a hospital that improperly administered vaccinations to Trump Tower workers and judges. On Friday, the hospital’s board reprimanded the CEO and the COO.

The withholding of vaccines comes as the city conducts a review of actions by Loretto Hospital, whose president said in a memo to hospital staff this week that 72 mostly Black and brown restaurant, hospital and other support personnel at Trump International Chicago were vaccinated earlier this month by hospital workers. It has also admitted improperly vaccinating Cook County Circuit Court judges.

In a statement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was concerned about the reports involving the hospital, noting the city’s vaccination plans have been focused around equity and reaching those who need it first.

“Unfortunately, in recent days, stories have surfaced alleging providers who had an obligation to follow (Chicago Department of Public Health) guidelines, ignored those restrictions and instead allowed well-connected individuals to jump the line to receive the vaccine instead of using it to service people who were more in need,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

At the time he acknowledged the hospital’s actions, president George Miller said the institution believed the Trump Tower workers were eligible because they were essential workers under Chicago’s eligibility guidelines. He said subsequent conversations with public health officials made it clear hospital officials were wrong.

Loretto Hospital officials had no immediate comment on the action by the city’s action.

Loretto Hospital is a 122-bed facility that primarily serves Black and Latino residents in surrounding 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 in those to get the shot.

In a statement from the board of directors, they said they are reviewing all vaccination distribution practices at the hospital.

We are disappointed by the revelations of the past week. 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. We have taken appropriate actions of reprimand against Loretto’s President/CEO George Miller and COO Anosh Ahmed, MD, for their roles in mistakes of judgment made.

With a laser focus on the Austin community, we are reviewing all vaccination distribution practices at the hospital. We are working with the hospital executive and medical teams to put control measures in place to ensure strict adherence to City of Chicago and Chicago Department of Public Health vaccine eligibility requirements and reporting protocols moving forward.

We will not allow any of this to derail us from our commitment to serving a community disproportionately devasted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud that The Loretto Hospital has administered more than 14,000 coronavirus vaccines to-date, 65 percent of which have gone to people of color. The Loretto Hospital has been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID on Chicago’s West side since day one and we will not rest until every eligible Austin resident has been vaccinated.

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