Complaints About Vaccine ‘VIP’ Lines at Loretto Go Back Months

Video: Breaking news out of Loretto Hospital as embattled COO and CFO Dr. Anosh Ahmed resigns. Our Spotlight Politcs team digs in to that story and more in this week’s roundtable on “Chicago Tonight.” (Produced by Alex Silets)

A union representative who works with Loretto Hospital staff says members have complained about so-called VIP lists of vaccine recipients since the vaccine rollout began in January.

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Anne Igoe, vice president of hospitals for SEIU Healthcare of Illinois, says workers filed complaints through the union when they saw people who did not appear to be community residents allowed to jump vaccine lines.

READ: Embattled Loretto Hospital Executive Resigns Amid Vaccine Scandal

“They were seeing groups of people ushered past the vaccine line, with a referral to a ‘VIP group,’” Igoe said. “It was a series of situations that raised alarms. Every single day there was a line of people waiting to get a vaccine, and the majority were not African American.”

Wellington Thomas, an emergency room technician, told “Chicago Tonight” on Tuesday that the so-called VIP groups raised eyebrows.

“As far as the VIP line, you could see that they had different groups. Certain groups would be pushed to the side, even when there was a long line. We feel there are serious connections there,” Thomas said.

Igoe says that workers suspect the outside groups were connected to embattled Loretto Chief Operating Officer Dr. Anosh Ahmed, who is under fire following a series of reports by Block Club Chicago describing Loretto vaccinations administered at Trump Tower, a gold coast jewelry store and other locations. But Thomas admitted there was no hard proof of a connection yet.

Igoe says the union brought the concerns to hospital CEO George Miller, but he wasn’t receptive.

“He denied it and said they’re following the rules. He asked us if we were asking other hospitals if they were doing the same,” Igoe said.

READ: Loretto Employee Alleges Vaccine ‘VIP’ Line at Hospital

Igoe, Thomas and other Loretto workers say Miller and Ahmed are still working at the hospital, despite the board’s opaque reference to a “reprimand” of the two while an investigation plays out. Igoe says Ahmed is no longer a part of the vaccination program. A person who answered Ahmed’s direct line at Loretto referred WTTW News to the hospital’s spokesperson.

In a statement, a Loretto Hospital spokesperson said:

“Loretto Hospital has been at the forefront of helping to close the vaccination equity gap in Chicago facing Black and Brown residents, distributing more than 15,000 on-site shots at the hospital, including thousands of Austin residents, and with the exception of moving some seniors and individuals with medical conditions to the front of the line, everyone went through the same process on-site as anyone else to receive their vaccination shot.” 

Thomas says the scandal and resultant fallout have roiled the community and caused confusion among patients who were already scheduled to receive their vaccine. He says he doesn’t accept the hospital’s reaction to the alleged improper vaccinations at the hands of Miller and Ahmed, or the lack of transparency.

“Something has to be done,” Thomas said.  “We should know what it is, so people understand.”

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

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