CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said while she is disappointed with the actions of Loretto Hospital giving the COVID vaccine to Trump Tower workers, members of an Oak Forest church, and others not yet eligible for shots, the city is making sure the city’s West Side will get the vaccine for those neighborhoods.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, the hospital’s board met Monday afternoon, amid revelations the hospital gave vaccines to those well-connected people who were not eligible to get it.READ MORE: Electrical Fire At O'Hare International Airport Closes Pedestrian Tunnel
The hospital said its chief executive officer and chief operating officer will be reprimanded, and vaccine practices will be reviewed.
“I fear that we’re going to hear more stories, which is why we pushed pause on giving Loretto new first doses. The Department of Public Health, I myself personally, have been in contact with the CEO, the members of the board. They’ve got work to do to rebuild trust in the community,” Lightfoot said.
City officials have cut off Loretto Hospital’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines after the West Side hospital broke the rules for who is eligible to get shots.
Loretto Hospital President & CEO George Miller publicly posted a video announcing vaccinations at his church, Valley Kingdom Ministries International in Oak Forest, more than 30 miles away from the West Side community that Miller said in December needed these vaccines the most.
The admission was particularly controversial because COVID-19 hit particularly hard in Black and Brown communities surrounding Loretto and that the hospital was selected as the backdrop for Chicago’s first coronavirus vaccinations in December. Miller himself said life expectancy in the Austin neighborhood is significantly lower than the rest of Chicago.
Miller admitted to vaccinating 72 restaurant, housekeeping, and other hotel employees at Trump International Chicago last week; a group not yet eligible for shots.READ MORE: Family Escapes House Fire In Brighton Park
Lightfoot said that the city is continuing to administer the COVID vaccine throughout the West Side and those areas that would have been served by Loretto.
“We’ve reassured folks on the West Side that we’re never going to leave them in the lurch, and we’re not. We have already put plans together for other providers to kind of take up the work that Loretto was doing,” Lightfoot said. “But clearly, they’ve got to have better systems in place; better controls. I don’t expect them to be coming back online anytime soon, but we’re there to support them as they identify issues in their systems and controls, but it’s unfortunate that has come to this.”
The controversy over Loretto giving out doses to Trump Tower workers, judges, and others who weren’t eligible for the vaccine was first reported by Block Club Chicago, which on Monday reported Loretto also vaccinated ineligible people at a luxury Gold Coast watch and jewelry shop, where the hospital’s chief operating officer, Dr. Anosh Ahmed, is a frequent customer.
According to Block Club, Loretto Hospital held a March 3 vaccination event Geneva Seal, a Gold Coast shop that sells high-end jewelry and watches, where Ahmed is a frequent customer and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. The hospital reportedly offered vaccinations to the owners and employees at the shop, as well as their family and friends.
Meanwhile Monday, AFSCME Local 1216 – the union representing nurses at Loretto – took the city to task for cutting off vaccine doses.
“As the safety net hospital for the city’s West Side, we have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” registered nurse and union president D Sutton said in a news release. “Loretto nurses have been on the front lines of our COVID unit. I and many others have been sickened in the line of duty, some of us so seriously that we had to be hospitalized ourselves. Now that the safe, effective COVID vaccines are available, we have been the ones delivering the shots to protect our community. Our work is critically important and we do not want it disrupted.”
The union called on the city to resume giving vaccine doses to Loretto.MORE NEWS: Protesters Pack Logan Square Over Police Shooting Of Adam Toledo
“Our community which has been systematically ignored and under-resourced for decades should not be punished now for the reported actions of a few,” Sutton said in the release.