Loretto board can’t afford to duck its responsibility to hold wayward execs accountable

Maybe it was the excitement of finally being recognized that made Loretto’s executives act like high school kids trying to impress the in-crowd.

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It’s been a feeding frenzy with daily revelations about how Loretto Hospital mishandled the COVID-19 vaccines.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The longer the top executives at Loretto Hospital hang on, the more negative stories are going to come out about how this safety-net hospital is being run.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford knows this.

He resigned from the hospital’s board of directors Tuesday, citing his disappointment with the “reprimands” handed down to CEO George Miller and COO Dr. Anosh Ahmed, for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination scandal.

“The reason I stepped away was to make sure the hospital regains its confidence that may have been lost, and focus on the community,” Ford told me in a telephone conversation.

“I’m very concerned about the fact that the first doses have been taken away and there are thousands of people that got their first dose and are waiting on their second dose. People are now confused,” he said.

On Wednesday, the board of trustees accepted the resignation of Ahmed, its COO and CFO.

Chairman Edward Hogan thanked Ahmed for his contributions and vowed the board “would continue to investigate any and all deviations from the rules and regulations guiding their vaccination policy.”

“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,” Hogan said in a news release.

Block Club Chicago was first to break the news that Ahmed took a caravan to Trump Tower to vaccinate hotel workers at the posh hotel, even joking that he had vaccinated the former president’s son, Eric Trump.

It’s been a feeding frenzy ever since with daily revelations about how the hospital handled the vaccinations.

And Loretto isn’t the only one accused of mishandling the vaccine.

City officials claim a Lincoln Park clinic misallocated 6,000 CPS vaccines, prompting officials to confiscate the remaining doses.

In Loretto’s case, vaccines that were supposed to go in the arms of residents in under-served neighborhoods went in the arms of employees at a luxury watch boutique on the Gold Coast where the COO apparently likes to shop, and in the arms of employees at a swanky restaurant where he likes to eat.

Miller tweeted out a prayer for redemption after it was exposed that he provided vaccinations for 200 worshippers at the megachurch he attends in Oak Forest, and that some Cook County judges and their spouses were vaccinated at Loretto even though it wasn’t their turn.

Ford and the board would not disclose the punishments Miller and Ahmed received.

It was as if the community the hospital serves had no right to be at the front of the line.

A spokesman for Loretto did not respond to my inquiry about this matter.

But a source with knowledge of the board’s deliberations said Miller got a two-week suspension without pay and Ahmed got 60 days without pay.

The financial hit is a slap on the wrist given that these executives are highly compensated, according to the hospital’s IRS Form 990 filed for the tax year beginning 7/01/2017 and ending 6/30/2018.

For instance, Loretto’s former CEO was paid $840,000 plus an additional $29,000 in other compensation.

The CEO compensation for a hospital with revenues up to $49.9 million is about $274,300 according to the Healthcare Finance website.

Ford is still trying to rationalize the thinking that led to this fiasco.

“I cannot answer why the COO thought it would be OK [to vaccinate] people at some of those institutions. But when they went to do the workers at Trump Towers, 68 of the 70 people were Black and one was Latino, and one was unidentified,” Ford explained.

“The city approved them to go to the 200 senior citizens 65 years old, but they needed to stay focused on Austin. We know on the board that no person in the Austin area on the West Side has ever been rejected or denied for a shot,” he added.

“What is disappointing is what Mr. Miller has done over there has been great. He was excited that Loretto was on the map,” Ford said.

Unfortunately, when they got on the map, these executives acted like high school kids trying to impress the in-crowd.

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