The day after the COO of Chicago’s Loretto Hospital stepped down amid allegations that he arranged for well-connected individuals to receive coronavirus vaccines, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says that at least one more similar event could still be unearthed.
In a series of stories published in Block Club Chicago, several events have been revealed where highly-connected individuals were able to receive the coronavirus vaccine when they weren’t eligible for it, including at Chicago’s Trump Tower and at several other area businesses, including a restaurant and a jewelry store.
On Wednesday, Dr. Anosh Ahmed, the hospital’s COO and CFO that was named in several of those stories, tendered his resignation, and the hospital’s board unanimously accepted it.
Now, Lightfoot says she believes that there is at least one more incident of Loretto giving out vaccines privately, and that she is waiting on an internal audit by the hospital before deciding how to proceed with any further action.
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Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health have pulled all first doses from the hospital in the aftermath of the allegations, giving them instead to Rush University to continue distributing them to the community that Loretto had previously been serving.
“There should be an independent investigation to determine the specific uses of every dose they’ve been allocated,” Lightfoot said.
The SEIU says that it strongly objects to the city’s decision to withhold first vaccine doses from the hospital, expressing concerns about front line staff at the hospital and about the safety of Austin residents.
Allegations of a possible “VIP line” for individuals seeking the vaccine have recently surfaced, but hospital management has said they don’t believe that such a line exists.
Lightfoot was questioned by NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern whether she or any of her staff had given Loretto a list of people to be vaccinated, and the mayor angrily pushed back at the question.
“Why on Earth, when we have a scarce supply of vaccine, would I heavy-hand and direct a third-party like Loretto to skip people in line? That’s not who I am,” Lightfoot said. “Of course I did not ever direct any provider, and least of all a third party, to have a list of people to get the vaccine, and I’m offended you asked me this question after my staff has told you, and I know the people from Loretto has told you is utter bull----.”
Lightfoot’s communications director had suggested to Ahern to ask the mayor directly, and Ahern was unable to ask any follow-up questions.