By Dr. Diana Rangaves, PharmD
Over the past few weeks, The Loretto Hospital, in Chicago's Austin community, has been a topic of conversation. Two of its executives, George Miller (CEO) and Dr. Anosh Ahmed (COO), were reprimanded on March 19, 2021 for unprofessional conduct that involved allowing some “well-connected” members of society to skip the vaccination line at the hospital.
As a result, the City of Chicago ceased supplying coronavirus vaccines to Loretto hospital because the hospital is not following the set guidelines. All vaccination providers were given fair warnings to ensure that only eligible people got the vaccinations. The vaccination centers should keep accurate reports and documentation of all vaccinations given. Failure to adhere to such guidelines will lead to the immediate disruption of the city’s coronavirus vaccine supply.
The Chief of Chicago’s health department, Dr. Allison Arwady, reassured the public that investigations had commenced regarding the people who received the vaccinations despite being ineligible. Dr. Allison Arwady expressed concerns regarding the actions of the two Loretto Hospital executives. Arwady claimed that Loretto Hospital no longer had the community’s trust and did not deserve to receive the coronavirus vaccines.
On Friday, Arwady spoke to the media and said “the biggest concern here is that they were vaccinating people, first and foremost, who were not eligible for the phase. That’s actually the biggest breach here. But it’s also concerning the hospital prioritized vaccines for people 'who were well-connected', really letting them jump the line.”
Austin is a protected neighborhood in Chicago since it is among the most affected neighborhoods with high COVID-19 infections. This makes the hospital's indiscretion even more serious. However, the Loretto hospital board members have assured that the two executives have been dealt with accordingly even though they refused to share the details of their punishments.
According to a WBEZ report, Loretto offered corona vaccinations to ineligible Cook County Judges. More than 200 members of a suburban church received corona vaccinations at Loretto Hospital just because the CEO George Miller was their friend and attended the same church. Loretto hospital spokespeople claimed that despite the eligibility information being available to the public through Chicago’s Health Department, the officials at Loretto hospital found it a confusing task differentiating between who was eligible and who wasn’t.
Arwady also responded to the rumor from a Cook County courts spokesperson that the city was throwing away vaccines. Arwady assured the media and the public that not a single vaccine was being thrown out. Only hours after Arwady’s Friday comments to the press, there was a Facebook post by Loretto hospital urging people in Chicago to come and receive vaccinations at the hospital before they expired at 5:30 pm.
While the well-connected friends of executives were skipping lines to receive vaccinations, the eligible residents of Austin, most of them poor or black, were spending hours on the line to receive vaccinations because their home areas were high-risk zones. Instead, the two Loretto hospital executives decided to give vaccines to ineligible people.
What this created was an inconvenience. According to The Triibe reporter Matt Harvey, "a minor inconvenience is all it takes to discourage a person with little-to-no familiarity with online forms such as Zocdoc from registering for the vaccine."
Furthermore, the impact on hard-hit, lower income, Black Austin community is that they are left without a vaccine supply based on actions of The Loretto Hospital executives. Although more people are able to get vaccinated soon, the vaccine rollout has been botchy in some communities, further escalating the hardships these communities face. ~ℝ
Dr. diana rangaves, news editor
Dr. Diana Rangaves, Google Scholar, holds a Doctorate from the University of California. She has extensive experience and expertise in the leadership and business sectors as a CEO, clinical pharmacist, consultant, and academic professor