James CrumpThu, 25 March 2021, 3:54 pm
The chief operating officer of a Chicago hospital has resigned following reports that the facility offered coronavirus vaccines to employees at former President Donald Trump’s nearby hotel, where the executive owns a condo.
The Board of Trustees for Loretto Hospital, which serves a majority-Black neighbourhood in an Illinois area badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, announced on Wednesday that it had accepted the resignation of Anosh Ahmed.
Local news site Block Club Chicago reported last week that executives at Loretto had been giving vaccines to people not yet eligible, prompting the city to cut off the hospital’s supply of the treatments while it investigated.
In a statement on Wednesday, Edward M Hogan, chairman of Loretto’s board of trustees, announced Dr Ahmed’s resignation, writing: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank Dr Ahmed for his contributions to the Loretto Hospital community and we wish him the best in his future endeavours.”
In a memo to staff obtained by CNN, Loretto CEO George Miller confirmed that the hospital set up a vaccine clinic for 72 of the hotel’s workers on 10 March in Chicago’s Trump Tower, where Mr Ahmed purchased a $2.7m (£1.96m) 43rd-floor condo just five months earlier.
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“We were, at the time, under the impression that restaurant and other frontline hospitality industry workers were considered ‘essential’ under the city of Chicago’s 1b eligibility requirements,” Mr Miller claimed in the memo.
Under Chicago’s coronavirus guidelines, hotel workers are not supposed to receive vaccinations until the start of April. Vaccines are currently only supposed to be offered to those over the age of 65, teachers, those in homeless shelters, grocery store workers and people in prisons.
In addition to Mr Ahmed’s condo building, Block Club Chicago reported on Monday that Loretto offered vaccines to a watch shop where he is a regular customer, which is located around 10 miles from the neighbourhood that the facility serves.
The Washington Post reported that Loretto’s board met following the publication of that story, but decided not to terminate Mr Ahmed’s employment at that time.
However, after the local news site reported that Mr Ahmed also offered vaccinations to a steakhouse that he frequents, the executive handed in his resignation later that day.
When asked by the Post whether the hospital had confirmation that Mr Ahmed had arranged vaccines for the steakhouse, Loretto spokesperson Becky Carroll said: “That is part of the internal review being conducted by the board.”
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Mr Hogan confirmed in the statement on Wednesday that an investigation is ongoing, adding: “If our review should uncover anything further that indicates our processes were compromised, there will be additional consequences imposed on those responsible for these actions.”
Following the pausing of Loretto’s supply of vaccines, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the hospital would remain excluded for the time being, saying: “I don’t expect them to be coming back any time soon.”
“I fear that we’re going to hear more stories. Which is why we pushed pause on giving Loretto new first doses,” Ms Lightfoot continued. “They’ve got work to do, I think, to rebuild trust in their own community,” the mayor added.
Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has recorded close to 1.23m coronavirus cases and at least 23,408 deaths.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 30 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 545,282.
The Independent has contacted Loretto Hospital and Mr Ahmed for contact.