Loretto Hospital CEO George Miller suspended amid COVID controversy

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Miller’s suspension and the resignation of Dr. Anosh Ahmed, who held the dual roles of chief operating officer and chief financial officer, follow news that Loretto doses went to people at vaccine events far from the West Side safety net, including at Trump Tower, where Ahmed has lived for about five years. People were also vaccinated at a Gold Coast watch shop where the ex-COO is a frequent customer and at a Gold Coast steakhouse where he has been a regular, according to Block Club Chicago.

And an influential state legislator, who is also an executive at Loretto, provided the West Side safety net with lists of individuals to be vaccinated, outside the normal protocols for obtaining shots. Crain’s obtained lists of 85 names that sources say were sent to the hospital by state Rep. Camille Lilly.

In a March 19 statement, the board said it had reprimanded Miller and Ahmed “for their roles in mistakes of judgment made,” but did not specify any sanctions. 

Yesterday Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city was “committed to helping Loretto get it right, because they’re so important to the West Side community,” adding she was “anxious to see” the results of an independent audit into the hospital’s dose administration. That audit is expected to be done this week.

City officials announced March 18 they halted Loretto Hospital’s vaccine supply pending an investigation.

The mayor said she told Loretto officials to quickly investigate what went wrong, make it independent and “rip the band-aid off” to put an end to the “drip, drip, drip” of media reports about misuse of doses. Such stories don’t “build confidence that they are a trusted provider of the vaccine,” she said.

“Obviously they deviated from what I think is their core mission and what should have been the focus during this critical time period, which is driving vaccine exclusively to that West Side population that’s so in need and where we still have a lot of work to do,” Lightfoot said. 

Another vaccine event occurred at a church in suburban Oak Park where Miller is a member, according to Block ClubWBEZ reported Cook County judges and spouses ineligible for vaccination were offered shots at Loretto. And a doctor associated with the hospital took doses off-site to vaccinate a terminally ill individual and nine others at a suburban home, NBC reported.

In a statement, Ahmed said he stepped down because he “was becoming a distraction to the heroic work being performed by the nurses, doctors and staff throughout the pandemic. . . .(I)n light of the attacks in the media on my character and intent, many of which were inaccurate or patently false, I decided it was best to leave with a heavy heart.”

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