The chief operating officer of a small Chicago hospital resigned on Wednesday after reports that he used coronavirus vaccines meant for low-income residents to vaccinate employees at his luxury wristwatch dealer, his regular steakhouse and his condo building — which is former president Donald Trump’s Chicago tower.
Ahmed’s actions — reported over the past week by the news site Block Club Chicago — had raised concerns that Loretto executives were putting their friends ahead of their patients. The city of Chicago had already cut off Loretto’s supply of new vaccines while it investigated.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank Dr. Ahmed for his contributions to the Loretto Hospital community and we wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Edward M. Hogan, chairman of Loretto’s board of trustees, said in a written statement.
Ahmed declined to comment to The Washington Post.
On March 10 and 11, Loretto vaccinated 72 employees at Trump’s downtown hotel and condo tower, where Ahmed had bought a $2.7 million 43rd-floor condo five months earlier. Under city guidelines, hotel workers were not supposed to be vaccinated until three weeks later.
In addition, the hospital offered vaccines to county judges and congregants at Loretto Hospital CEO George Miller’s church. A hospital spokeswoman said only eligible congregants were given vaccines.
On Monday, Block Club Chicago reported that Loretto also offered vaccines to employees at a luxury watch store where Ahmed was a regular customer.
The watch shop is in Chicago’s luxe “Gold Coast” shopping district, about 10 miles away from the neighborhood that Loretto serves. Block Club Chicago said that watch store employees were vaccinated March 3, a week before the event at Trump’s Chicago tower.
After that report, the hospital’s board met but decided not to terminate Ahmed.
Then, on Wednesday, came the latest report: that Ahmed had arranged for vaccinations at Maple and Ash, a downtown steakhouse he frequents. The menu shows that some steaks cost up to $180 each.
Loretto Hospital did not respond to questions about that report, but hours later it announced it had accepted Ahmed’s resignation.
Asked whether the hospital had confirmed that Ahmed arranged for vaccines for the steakhouse and watch store staff, spokesman Becky Carroll said, “That is part of the internal review being conducted by the board.”
Attempts to reach executives at the steakhouse on Wednesday evening were unsuccessful.
Last week, Chicago said it would cut off Loretto’s supply of new coronavirus vaccines while the city looked into the hospital’s practices. On Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said the hospital would remain excluded for now: “I don’t expect them to be coming back any time soon.’
“I fear that we’re going to hear more stories. Which is why we pushed pause on giving Loretto new first doses,” Lightfoot said in a news conference Monday. ‘They’ve got work to do, I think, to rebuild trust in their own community.”
Chicago is still in “Phase 1b” of its vaccination plan, which began in late January. In that stage, the vaccine is supposed to be given to those over 65, people in prisons and homeless shelters, teachers and grocery-store workers.
Last week, Block Club Chicago also reported that Ahmed had bragged that he had also vaccinated Eric Trump, the former president’s son. Later, the hospital issued a statement from Ahmed saying that he had only been joking.
Eric Trump has not responded to requests for comment.