CHICAGO - The city health department has disciplined another local vaccine provider, accusing it of misallocating doses.
This comes on the heels of a similar situation at Loretto Hospital, where on Tuesday one of its board members resigned.
The Chicago Department of Public Health is no longer distributing vaccine to "Innovative Express Care," accusing the clinic of knowingly misallocating 6,000 doses -- many of which were designated for Chicago Public School employees.
In a statement, the department said in part, "CDPH has learned that IEC administered vaccine to non-CPS individuals without prior authorization. This is completely unacceptable behavior...we have already identified new providers to take over."
The move comes amid continuing fallout at Loretto Hospital, whose executives were also reprimanded for setting up vaccine events at Trump Tower, an upscale watch store in the Gold Coast, and one of the executives' churches.
State Rep. La Shawn Ford had sat on the board of trustees for the hospital. But on Tuesday, he resigned from that role, disappointed those execs took away valuable doses from the Austin community.
"My decision to step away from the board is in the interest of advocating for the hospital in a positive way, not dealing with negativity, but making sure that I continue to advocate for the Austin community to have resources," Ford said.
Asked if those Loretto executives should resign or be fired, Ford says that should be up to the remaining board members who should handle it in a way that does not interrupt service to nearby residents.
"It's easy to fire, but this is a pandemic. And firing people when the damage is done right now...there should be a full investigation so we can have all the evidence in place," Ford said.
FOX 32 reached out to Innovative Express Care, who provided the following statement:
"We strongly disagree with the allegations made by the Chicago Department of Public Health stating a misallocation of vaccines intended for CPS staff.
We proudly operated four CPS vaccination sites. As of last week, every CPS staff member had been given an opportunity to be vaccinated due to our capacity to effectively operate a vaccine distribution effort. CPS highlighted the news of an effective partnership during a CPS event last week that celebrated the vaccination distribution. In the official press release, CPS officials stated that a significant amount of CPS employees received vaccinations as of March 17, 2021. Innovative Express Care is proud to have vaccinated thousands of CPS employees at one of the four sites and many other CPS employees at our clinic.
All vaccine doses that were not used by CPS at the end of each week went to another eligible patient for their first dose. We always ensured that there were enough allocations for additional doses for all CPS employees. We received vaccine allocations each week, and our intention has always been to have a 100% utilization rate in order that every single dose we received was put into the arm of a qualified patient that week. 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.
The decision by CDPH officials today leaves us bewildered, saddened, and frankly disappointed in our local government. CDPH officials never made it clear to us as a provider that we should be storing vaccines in a refrigerator for people awaiting second doses. Rather, we have been following the nation’s commitment to get as many vaccines in eligible patients’ arms, as quickly as possible. Our mission involved vaccinating as many eligible patients as quickly as possible, and not at the whims of the city official’s latest political crisis.
To be clear, Innovative Express Care has vaccinated eligible individuals in a phased approach as dictated by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois since January. We have been learning with other health providers along the way, always adhering to medical ethics. We have helped numerous community organizations by proactively scheduling eligible individuals who live in medically underserved Black and Brown communities. Our past history as recorded in numerous media accounts and our patients’ own voices of appreciation on social media are evidence towards our positive impact. Effective vaccine distribution should be modeled, not penalized.
We have served our community since the start of this pandemic, and we will continue to do so through testing. 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."