AUSTIN — One of Loretto Hospital’s top executives resigned Wednesday night after Block Club revealed people at three businesses he had close ties with were vaccinated early with doses from the West Side hospital.
Loretto Hospital’s Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of Chief Operating Officer Dr. Anosh Ahmed in a unanimous vote Wednesday, according to a news release. Ahmed’s resignation came just hours after Block Club reported ineligible people who work at a steakhouse frequented by Ahmed were vaccinated early.
The board thanked Ahmed for his work — but said it will “continue to investigate any and all deviations from the rules and regulations” for vaccinations. Ahmed was hired in 2018.
“If our review should uncover anything further that indicates our processes were compromised, there will be additional consequences imposed on those responsible for these actions,” board Chairman Edward Hogan said in a statement.
Ahmed, who also served as chief financial officer at the hospital, was heavily criticized after Block Club’s report last week that Loretto held a vaccination event at Trump Tower and Ahmed told people he vaccinated millionaire Eric Trump.
Ahmed — who later said he was joking about vaccinating Trump — owns a condo in Trump Tower and has told people he’s friends with Trump, who wouldn’t have been eligible for a vaccine in Chicago.
Geneva Seal, a luxury watch and jewelry shop on the Gold Coast frequented by Ahmed, was vaccinated by Loretto in early March, as well; as were employees at an expensive Gold Coast steakhouse, Maple & Ash, where Ahmed is a frequent customer.
The scandals extend to other parts of the hospital: More than 200 people at CEO George Miller’s suburban church got vaccinated by Loretto, Block Club reported. Ineligible Cook County judges were also offered shots at Loretto, WBEZ reported.
Loretto Hospital has had its supply of coronavirus vaccine doses cut off by the city as officials investigate whether it’s been properly vaccinating people and reporting vaccinations.
Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s health department, has said Loretto used its doses on “well-connected” people, “letting them jump the line.” The health department is investigating and will not send doses to Loretto until it’s confident they’ll be used in accordance with the city’s rules.
The hospital’s board said Friday it had taken “appropriate actions of reprimand against Miller and Ahmed for their role in the mistakes of judgment” — but members of the board refused to reveal those punishments.
On Monday, the board held an emergency meeting and said it had created a corrective plan of action, but members again refused to say what they were planning to do or how they’d reprimanded Miller and Ahmed.
Rep. LaShawn Ford, a member of the board and representative of the area in the state Legislature, resigned Tuesday morning, saying the board needs to be more transparent.
Loretto Hospital is a small, 122-bed hospital that operates on the underserved West Side, where people of color have been hit hard by coronavirus and few people have been vaccinated. Trump Tower, Geneva Seal and Maple & Ash are in the Downtown area, where the virus’s impact has not been felt as much — but where more vaccinations have been done.
The city has highlighted Loretto’s work as an example of its goal of equitably vaccinating people — even insisting on having the city’s first vaccine doses administered there to show how Chicago would prioritize West and South side communities that are often ignored.
But the hospital is now shrouded in controversy.
A Loretto Hospital staff member — who asked to remain anonymous because they fear retaliation — said the controversies are “infuriating” because “people are calling every day, waiting in line to get vaccinated” on the West Side.
The staff member said many of their coworkers at Loretto are “frustrated” and questioning how anyone at the hospital can be held accountable. The board should have fired Miller and Ahmed, the staff member said Monday.
“We sort of have lost trust in the leadership at Loretto Hospital. We’ve lost trust in the board,” the staff member said. “It seems very, very corrupt, and it seems like their self-interests are much more important to them than serving the West Side of Chicago, which so many of us are passionate about, and so many of us are at the hospital for this reason.”
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