CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is calling for an independent investigation at Loretto Hospital, the West Side facility plagued by vaccination scandals.
Loretto Hospital and its executives, including former Chief Operating Officer Dr. Anosh Ahmed and Chief Executive Officer George Miller, are embroiled in controversy after early doses were sent to groups with which they have ties. Ahmed resigned Wednesday night and the city has cut off its supply of doses to Loretto and is looking into the vaccinations.
Loretto has repeatedly assured Lightfoot it’s “come clean” — only for yet another scandal to come out, the mayor said during a Thursday call with reporters. She said there needs to be an independent investigation at the hospital, and the findings must be presented to the city’s health department.
“To be clear, there should be an independent investigation; I wasn’t expecting Loretto to audit themselves,” Lightfoot said. “There should be an independent investigation to determine the specific uses for every dose they have been allocated.”
Block Club sources have said Loretto vaccinated people at a luxury Gold Coast jewelry store frequented by Ahmed; “higher-ups” at a steakhouse where Ahmed dines; ineligible workers at Trump Tower, where Ahmed and another hospital official live; and a suburban church attended by Miller. Ineligible Cook County judges were also offered shots at Loretto, WBEZ reported.
“I’ve been very upfront about the fact that I’m deeply disappointed in the way Loretto not only, in my view, misappropriated vaccines … that were intended to serve the West Side community, a low-income, Black community that Loretto Hospital has a mission to serve,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot said that through conversations with people at Loretto, she knows the hospital needs to do a “fulsome audit.”
“They need to come clean about every instance in which vaccine has been committed to people that don’t fit into that West Side footprint and tell us about it,” she said. “Now it feels like it’s death by a thousand cuts for them. … It’s just frustrating that we’re not seeing the kind of movement that we’d expect in light of the problems that have been drip, drip, dripping coming out of Loretto.”
State Rep. Marty Moylan, who represents northwest suburbs, has called for an independent investigation into the hospital’s vaccinations, as well.
Miller — whose suburban church was vaccinated by Loretto and who took responsibility for the Trump Tower vaccinations — remains the president and CEO of the hospital. The hospital has not said what punishments, if any, it has levied against him for the scandals.
The hospital’s Board of Trustees has said it is conducting an audit of the hospital’s off-site vaccination events and would share the results with the city. It has not yet provided information about what that audit will look like or how it will be conducted.
“Once the board reviews the full results, a determination will be made as to whether an external audit is necessary,” spokeswoman Becky Carroll said in a statement. “Ultimately, Loretto will provide whatever is required to meet the city’s specifications and satisfaction.”
The hospital has failed to be transparent since Block Club began reporting on the scandals.
The hospital board’s members refused to say what punishments were given to Miller and Ahmed after the improper vaccination events. State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a member of the board, has not returned requests for comment. State Rep. LaShawn Ford was a member of the board — until he resigned Tuesday, saying the board must be more transparent with how it punished executives. But he has also not said what the board was doing with Miller or Ahmed.
Ahmed has donated at least $12,000 to election efforts for Ford, and Miller has donated at least $2,500 to a political fund run by Lightford, a public database shows. Ford said the donation did not present a conflict of interest.
The hospital also told Block Club an improper vaccination event at a Gold Coast jewelry store did not occur — even though a source told Block Club they were vaccinated by Loretto staff during an event at the store. The source provided Block Club with a photo of Loretto staff giving them the shot and their vaccination card, which showed Loretto as the vaccine provider.
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