Private practice tapped to vaccinate Chicago Public Schools staff gets doses taken away

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CDPH said Innovative “knowingly misallocated more than 6,000 doses of vaccine—including using vaccine allocated for second doses for first dose appointments instead. This is completely unacceptable behavior,” according to a statement. As a result, CDPH said it will reclaim all vaccine distributed and stored at Innovative. 

Khare and Innovative dispute the Health Department’s accusation.

“We strongly disagree with the allegations made by the Chicago Department of Public Health,” Innovative Express Care said in a statement. “We are deeply disappointed in the city’s decision to remove us as a vaccine provider. Chicago needs more vaccination sites that are actually distributing their doses to eligible patients, not fewer.”

In a four-minute video posted to Facebook—you can watch it below—Khare echoed the statement.

Innovative had the doses as part of a deal it inked with Chicago Public Schools to administer vaccine to employees. CDPH said it has identified new providers to inoculate those scheduled to get a dose through Innovate and that CPS personnel with existing appointments will not be affected. Anyone scheduled for a second dose at Innovative will be vaccinated at a special clinic set up at Truman College on the North Side.

Innovative said it has vaccinated thousands of CPS employees at one of four sites and at its clinic, noting that any unused shots at the end of each week were offered to other eligible patients.

“Our intention has always been to have a 100 percent utilization rate in order that every single dose we received was put into the arm of a qualified patient that week,” the statement says. “Clearly we took this idealistic vision very seriously, which meant that doses intended for CPS employees actually went to seniors, frontline essential workers and other qualified patients. We never departed from the commitment to CPS employees, nor other qualified individuals.”

Innovative Express Care’s contract with Chicago Public Schools, worth $5 million, was supposed to last from Feb. 9 until June 30.

“We are deeply concerned by the allegations involving Innovative Express, and are committed to a smooth transition that ensures minimal disruption for staff,” CPS spokesman Michael Passman said in a statement, adding that the district has offered 1,500 first dose appointments to staff weekly since last month. “We have worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health to identify a new vaccination partner that will begin operating our vaccination sites this Thursday, and Innovative Express’s actions have not impacted our ability to offer appointments until this point.”

That vaccination partner is CIMPAR, which will maintain all current locations, dates and hours of operations, the district says. More than 1,000 appointments are still available. CIMPAR already partnered with the city to administer vaccines at senior homes, according to the Sun-Times, and with Cook County to vaccinate staff at City View nursing home in Cicero. 

At an unrelated news conference today, city Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said cutting off supply was a major penalty the city doesn’t take lightly.

“With vaccine supply as precious as it is right now, we know that restricting vaccine access is major punishment for any facility that is not doing what they are required to do,” she said, when asked for additional comment on the Loretto scandal. “My priority is getting Chicago vaccinated and making sure that if we have providers who are not performing in ways that meet our efficiency, equity and general goals . . . they will not be vaccine providers.”

The Health Department paused Loretto’s vaccine supply while it looks into several vaccination events, including one at Trump Tower. Arwady today said the city had already tapped another health care provider to ensure that the city’s vaccination progress in Austin, Loretto’s neighborhood, continues “uninterrupted.”

Crain’s Chicago Business reporter A.D. Quig contributed.

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