Loretto Hospital

Rep. La Shawn Ford Resigns From Loretto Hospital Board Over Vaccine Controversy

Ford said he "strongly disagreed" with how the hospital's leadership was reprimanded in the midst of a vaccine controversy

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Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford resigned from his position on the Loretto Hospital board this week saying he "strongly disagreed" with how the hospital's leadership was reprimanded in the midst of a vaccine controversy.

“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. "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."

Multiple officials at Chicago’s Loretto Hospital have received reprimands, but are expected to retain their positions after several instances in which coronavirus vaccines were purportedly given to individuals with connections to the hospital’s board.

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, who is also vice chairman of the Loretto board, would not specify what the discipline entailed, but said leaders were reprimanded "extensively" and had expressed remorse.

"Sanctions were placed. Financial charges as well. So I don’t know that there needs to be any further discussion," Lightford said.

According to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Loretto Hospital will not be receiving additional first doses of the coronavirus vaccine for the foreseeable future after the reported incidents, with at least four currently under investigation.

“I fear that we’re going to hear more stories, which is why we pushed pause,” Lightfoot said Monday. “I’ve been in contact with the CEO and members of the board, and they’ve got work to do to rebuild trust in their own community.”

The latest allegation was published by Block Club Chicago on Monday. According to the publication, vaccine doses were offered to individuals at a jewelry store on Oak Street in Chicago, with a private event held at the location to vaccine employees.

Earlier this month, hospital officials confirmed that a vaccination event had been held for employees at Chicago’s Trump Tower. Other reported events included members of the CEO's suburban church and Cook County judges.

When asked if other incidents could come to light, Lightford said Monday "you may be in line for another piece of information," but declined to offer any specifics.

As a result of the already reported incidents, Loretto will not be sent first doses of the vaccine until the Chicago Department of Public Health has reviewed the hospital’s policies, according to officials.

Lightfoot said that individuals scheduled for second doses of the vaccine at the hospital will still be allowed to receive those doses, but she says that she doesn’t expect that the hospital will be given any first doses in the near future.

“I don’t expect them to be coming back online any time soon,” Lightfoot said. “We’re there to support them as they identify issues in their systems and controls. It is unfortunate that it has come to this.”

Officials with the Service Employees International Union have pushed back on the city’s decision to withhold doses, saying that it places an unfair burden on an area of the city that has been hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The union is asking that COVID vaccines be provided for staff and family members, but it is unclear if that request will be fulfilled by the city.

"We've reassured folks on the West Side that we're never going to leave them in the lurch and we're not," Lightfoot said. "We have already put plans together for other providers to kind of take up the work that Loretto was doing."

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