CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) has resigned from the board of Loretto Hospital, saying he “strongly disagreed” with how two top executives were reprimanded for arranging vaccinations for ineligible but well-connected people.
“I am very disappointed with the recent developments at The Loretto Hospital regarding its use of coronavirus vaccine entrusted to the hospital,” Ford said in a statement Tuesday morning. “Yesterday, I submitted my resignation to The Loretto Hospital’s Board Chairman Edward Hogan because I strongly disagreed with how the reprimand of the hospital leadership was handled. As the state representative for the hospital and as a resident in its service area, I will continue to fight for resources for The Loretto Hospital, a safety-net hospital in the Austin community.”READ MORE: 'I Just Wanted To See My Grandma': Suburban Chicago Teens Help Peers Get COVID Vaccine Appointments
The hospital’s board met Monday afternoon, amid the latest revelations Loretto President & CEO George Miller and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Anosh Ahmed arranged for vaccines to those well-connected people who were not eligible to get it.
The board did not announce any new disciplinary actions against Miller or Ahmed, instead pointing to a statement from last week that the two executives had been “reprimanded.”
Monday’s board meeting came after Block Club Chicago, which broke the story on Loretto Hospital providing vaccines to connected people who were not yet eligible, reported the hospital vaccinated ineligible people at a luxury Gold Coast watch and jewelry shop, where 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.
“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,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.
The scandal broke last week when Miller admitted to vaccinating 72 restaurant, housekeeping, and other hotel employees at Trump International Chicago; a group not yet eligible for shots.
The hospital also provided vaccines to Cook County judges who do not yet qualify for the shots, as well as to members of Miller’s church in Oak Forest.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Dry And Quiet Pattern
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.
Lightfoot said Monday the city won’t be supplying Loretto with vaccine doses “anytime soon” while the city conducts a review to make sure Loretto is following the rules.
“They’ve got to have better systems in place, better controls. They’ve got to have better data infrastructure to make sure they can track to people who they’re supposed to be serving. So there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” she said.
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.
“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.
Lightfoot has 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.MORE NEWS: Man Lost Everything As He Waited On Callback From Illinois Department Of Employment Security That Never Came
“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 Monday. “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.”