Thursday , July 29 2021

Loretto Hospital gave COVID vaccines to people on lawmaker’s list

Of the 39 entries that include ages, 14 are under 65 and 25 are over 65. In the city of Chicago, where Loretto is located, phase 1B covered people 65 and older and frontline essential workers. It’s not clear who were eligible as frontline essential workers, as only 10 total entries were marked “essential.”

Nearly two dozen names are staff from two Catalyst Charter Schools located in Austin and on the city’s Southwest Side.

“No such list exists. Period,” said Becky Carroll, a spokeswoman for the hospital. “Rep. Lilly, like other community partners, curated names of frontline workers and residents from Austin and the greater West Side to get them signed up and into the registration system to be vaccinated.”

Carroll said the hospital recruited frontline workers and residents “to continue protecting our community from this deadly virus and close vaccination access gaps facing Black and Brown Chicagoans.”

Lilly is one of several politicians linked to the hospital. State Rep. LaShawn Ford, a board member, stepped down from the board Tuesday.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, the vice-chair of Loretto, said today that the board is figuring out what needs to be done to move forward from the controversy surrounding the hospital, but that it stands behind CEO George Miller. 

Dr. Anosh Ahmed resigned from his post as Loretto’s COO and CFO in the wake of the safety net’s vaccine controversy. Vaccination events took place at Trump Tower, where Ahmed has lived for about five years; at a Gold Coast watch shop where the COO is a frequent customer; and at a Gold Coast steakhouse where Ahmed is a regular, according to Block Club Chicago.

“There’s a lot at stake,” Lightford said, noting that Loretto, which serves large numbers of low-income patients, is the largest employer in the Austin community. She added that board chair Edward Hogan and Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke last night, after the mayor had called for an independent audit into Loretto’s dose administration.

“We were given a week’s time that we were going to do a full-on investigation,” she said, adding that a full report is expected in two or three days.

A union representative who works with Loretto staff told WTTW this week that members had complained about so-called VIP lists of vaccine recipients since January. “Certain groups would be pushed to the side, even when there was a long line,” Wellington Thomas, an emergency room technician, told WTTW. 

“There were never any such VIP lines, unless people consider the occasional moving of a senior or people who experience chronic pain and have difficulty standing in line for an hour to the front of the line as VIPs but aside from that they didn’t exist,” Carroll said.

Lilly declined to comment and referred questions to Carroll.

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