State Sen. Lightford defends Loretto Hospital CEO Miller — as ousted COO Ahmed defends himself

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George Miller, CEO of Loretto Hospital, left, in January; State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, right, last month.
George Miller, CEO of Loretto Hospital, left, in January; State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, right, last month. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Dr. Anosh Ahmed said he resigned as a Loretto executive “because I was becoming a distraction.” He maintains that “many” of the allegations against him were “inaccurate or patently false,” but he also admitted that only a quarter of those vaccinated at the hospital were residents of the Austin neighborhood.

SPRINGFIELD — State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford on Friday defended George Miller, the CEO of Loretto Hospital, where the west suburban senator serves as a board member and is the namesake of its emergency department, built with state funds she helped secure.

Despite the swirling coronavirus vaccine scandal at the West Side hospital, Lightford said Miller is “one of our best presidents that we’ve had.”

Lightford’s show of support for Miller comes as ousted hospital executive Dr. Anosh Ahmed issued a statement saying he resigned as chief operating officer and chief financial officer this week “because I was becoming a distraction to the heroic work being performed by the nurses, doctors and staff throughout the pandemic.”

He maintains that “many” of the allegations against him were “inaccurate or patently false,” but he also admitted that only a quarter of those vaccinated at the hospital were residents of the Austin neighborhood the hospital serves.

“Unfortunately, stories of my involvement of providing vaccines outside of the community became daily media and political fodder instead of focusing on the pandemic and expanding access to healthcare services in the Austin community and beyond,” Ahmed said in a statement Friday.

Dr. Anosh Ahmed, who resigned as a Loretto Hospital executive this week.
Dr. Anosh Ahmed, who resigned as a Loretto Hospital executive this week.

Ahmed and Miller first came under scrutiny following revelations from Block Club Chicago that the hospital improperly provided vaccinations to workers at Trump Tower, where Ahmed lives; a luxury watch shop on the Gold Coast where Ahmed shops; and a high-priced steakhouse that Ahmed frequents.

Miller has drawn criticism for authorizing the Trump Tower vaccinations and providing vaccinations to more than 200 members of his southwest suburban church.

He has not stepped down but apologized last week.

“Have mercy on me O God,” Miller wrote on Facebook. “Forgive me for going my own way and not aligning my life with Your perfect will. I confess that I have been misguided by my own self-serving purposes and have lost sight of Your face.”

At an unrelated news conference Friday, Lightford — a 21-year Loretto board member — voiced strong support for Miller.

“It’s important that we continue to provide quality health care to the Austin community, and we do not at this time see Mr. Miller as being a detriment to our efforts,” she said.

The Maywood Democrat said Miller hadn’t made contributions to her campaign fund, but state election board records show that in 2019 Miller made a $2,500 contribution to the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, which Lightford oversees as chair.

State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, nominates state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, to be the next Senate president last year.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP
State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, nominates state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, to be the next Senate president last year.

The hospital’s “Kimberly A. Lightford Emergency Department” is named after the senator. It was built in 2009 with “$8.2 million in capital improvement funds received from Lightford,” according to the hospital’s website.

Another board member, state Rep. La Shawn Ford, resigned from the panel earlier this week, saying the hospital’s reprimands of Ahmed and Miller were insufficient.

“I am very disappointed with the recent developments at The Loretto Hospital regarding its use of coronavirus vaccine entrusted to the hospital,” Ford said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. “Yesterday, I submitted my resignation … because I strongly disagreed with how the reprimand of the hospital leadership was handled.”

Before his resignation, Ahmed had been reprimanded by the hospital behind closed doors and given a 60-day suspension, a source told Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell on Wednesday.

In his statement, Ahmed said he was “dismayed” Loretto did not reveal data from the hospital’s vaccination audit, which he calls “exculpatory.”

According to Ahmed, the hospital has administered over 23,000 COVID-19 tests and vaccinated 16,000 people. Of those, only 200 vaccinated patients were deemed to be unqualified to get their shot.

Loretto Hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the internal audit.

Earlier this week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot cut off the hospital from receiving any more first-dose vaccinations.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at an event in the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side earlier this month.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at an event in the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side earlier this month.

“We have very robust oversight,” Lightfoot said at a news conference Wednesday. “We have a right to expect — and per our contract — that people abide by the rules and they give us accurate reporting. And what we’ve seen in at least two instances, that hasn’t been the case.”

In his statement, Ahmed pleaded for the mayor to reverse her decision.

“I am proud of the work we were able to accomplish during my tenure at the hospital and I hope, with my resignation, they will continue to move in the positive direction and remain an asset to the community,” he said. “It is my hope the city will immediately reinstate Loretto’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines.”

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March 26, 2021 at 05:24PM

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