Loretto Hospital

COVID-19 vaccine scandal at Chicago’s Loretto Hospital leads to resignation

March 26, 2021
by Robin Lasky, Contributing Reporter
Following revelations of administering vaccines to ineligible recipients based on favoritism, the hospital’s board accepted the resignation of Dr. Anash Ahmed, its chief operating officer and chief financial officer, on March 24.

Recently reports have emerged that, over the last month, Ahmed, along with CEO George Miller Jr., may have been responsible for the improper administering of vaccines to ineligible patients who live outside of the Austin area, apparently based on personal, as well as possibly financial, ties to the two executives.

“We will not allow any of this to derail us from our commitment to serving a community disproportionately devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud that the Loretto Hospital has administered more than 14,000 coronavirus vaccines to date, 65 percent of which have gone to people of color. The Loretto Hospital has been on the frontlines of the fight against COVID on Chicago’s West side since day one and we will not rest until every eligible Austin resident has been vaccinated,” the board of Loretto Hospital said in a statement responding to the allegations.

Loretto Hospital is a non-profit safety net hospital that serves the Austin neighborhood of Chicago’s west side. Dr. Anash Ahmed has served as Loretto Hospital’s COO and CFO since he was hired in 2018. The Austin neighborhood of Chicago is over 95% black and Hispanic, has an average income of approximately $33,000, and is one of the most vulnerable communities in the Chicago area that has been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The west side of Chicago is home to communities that are affected by a dramatic disparity in health outcomes more generally, compared with Chicago’s much more affluent Loop area, including a 16-year difference in average life expectancy.

City investigators first took notice after it came to light that Loretto Hospital hosted a vaccine event at Trump Tower in downtown Chicago purportedly to inoculate the, mostly as yet ineligible, hospitality staff that works in the building. Uproar ensued after COO Anash Ahmed posted about the event on social media bragging that he had just “vaccinated Eric Trump” alongside a photo of the two of them together. It was later revealed that Ahmed owns a condo in the building.

Later, a number of other instances of similar impropriety came to light. In early February, Loretto Hospital administered shots to 200 people at the suburban church that CEO George Miller attends and where he is a longtime friend of the church’s leader.

On March 3rd, as reported by Block Club Chicago, another similar event took place at a high-end jewelry and designer watch store frequented by Ahmed. According to sources and appraisal documents obtained by Block Club Chicago, Ahmed may have spent up to a cumulative $300,000.00 in purchases at the shop. A spokesperson from Loretto Hospital has denied that the event occurred.

Further, according to sources and communications obtained by WBEZ Chicago, it also appears that 13, as yet ineligible, Cook County judges were also allowed to jump the line and get vaccinated at Loretto Hospital.

Sources have also provided information alleging that “higher-ups” at Maple & Ash, a steakhouse in Chicago’s wealthy Gold Coast area, that Ahmed is reported to have frequented for business meetings, and in which he routinely ran up $1,000 bills, were also given early access to the vaccine.

As reported by Block Club Chicago, a spokesperson from Loretto Hospital commented, “The Loretto Board of Directors is conducting an audit of all off-site vaccination events, and it will share its findings with the mayor’s office and Chicago Department of Public Health.”

According to state records, Anash Ahmed and Dr. Sumeer Suhail are both managers of Aljazara Halal Meat, LLC, an entity that owns a slaughterhouse in Kankakee County. It is unknown whether this entity is one of Maple & Ash’s meat vendors, but it would not be the first time these two faced suspicion of impropriety in connection with Ahmed’s former executive position at Loretto Hospital.

In 2019, soon after Ahmed was appointed COO of Loretto Hospital, Loretto Hospital sought permission to build a $2,000,000 dialysis facility, which was proposed to be run by Suhail through his company Austin Dialysis Center LLC. After controversy arose concerning discovery of the undisclosed business relationship between Ahmed and Suhail, as well as criticism that the center was unneeded and would oversaturate the market for dialysis in the area, the project was quietly scrapped.