Loretto Hospital to resume COVID-19 vaccinations at city-run clinic

The site will open on April 21 and will initially serve only Austin residents over age 18. An internal audit of Loretto Hospital revealed around 31% of all its past vaccinations were given to Austin residents.

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Loretto Hospital is at 645 S Central Ave in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

COVID-19 vaccinations will resume next week at Loretto Hospital, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced Friday.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Coronavirus vaccinations will resume next week at Loretto Hospital in a city-run clinic, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced Friday.

The new vaccination site will be focused on serving residents of the hospital’s Austin community, according to a health department news release.

On March 18, the health department had halted the delivery of vaccines to Loretto, 645 S. Central Ave., after reports surfaced that the hospital had vaccinated 72 ineligible workers at Trump International Hotel & Tower, where the hospital’s chief operating officer, Anosh Ahmed, has a condo.

That was followed by other revelations about vaccination events, culminating with Ahmed’s resignation in late March.

At the time, the city health department had said the pause would continue until a full accounting of all vaccine-related activities had been completed and it could confirm the hospital’s vaccination strategies and reporting practices met all department requirements.

The hospital released what it called some “key findings” from that audit on Friday. According to the audit, the hospital has so far administered 15,700 vaccinations and, of those, 99.2% went to residents deemed eligible per city guidelines and 70% went to people of color (compared to 58% citywide).

Around 60% of all vaccinations were given to Chicago residents and 31% of vaccines were given specifically to those in the Austin neighborhood.

Loretto’s new on-site clinic is set to open Wednesday, and the city will manage all operations, including vaccination registration, scheduling and reporting all vaccine administration to the state’s I-CARE system.

Clinical staff from Loretto will administer the vaccine and work with local organizations to ensure Austin residents have access to the clinic. The city will assign an engagement and outreach coordinator to work with Loretto staff to reach hospital patients and Austin residents.

“Our goal is to get this lifesaving vaccine to the residents of Austin and their neighbors on the West Side who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, city health commissioner. “After reviewing the full accounting of past vaccine administered, and after multiple productive discussions with the team at Loretto about our expectations, we are ready to work in partnership with them.”

Loretto President George Miller said he is grateful for the second chance to participate in Chicago’s vaccination program, and he looks forward to addressing gaps in access to vaccines for people of color.

“While mistakes were made that I wish could be undone, I take full responsibility for those actions as president of this great hospital and have given my word that we will not find ourselves in this situation again,” Miller said.

The site will run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Austin residents over age 18 can book a vaccination appointment for free, and one’s proof of address will be required on the day of the appointment.

Those eligible for the vaccine can sign up for an appointment by calling 312-746-4835 or by registering online.

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