“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,” Board Chairman Edward Hogan said in a statement, adding that the board will continue to look into how the hospital has handled vaccine doses. “If our review should uncover anything further that indicates our processes were compromised, there will be additional consequences imposed on those responsible for these actions.”
Ahmed didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Austin, the neighborhood Loretto serves, is one of the 15 high-need communities identified by the city’s COVID vulnerability index. Loretto treats large numbers of poor and uninsured patients as a safety-net hospital, and after the Trump Tower news broke, questions were raised about why vaccine doses allocated to the Austin facility were administered at the luxury high-rise downtown.
"The vaccinations and the attempt to cover up their impropriety by invoking people of color is unworthy of a hospital leader, and especially a leader of a community hospital," Erik Gordon, clinical assistant professor who studies corporate governance at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, told Crain's. "If (Miller) stays, the hospital's accreditation should be reconsidered."
The safety net will no longer receive first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine pending a city investigation.
In a memo to hospital employees, Miller said the vaccine event at Trump Tower “stemmed from requests from West Side residents who work at the hotel and were unable to leave their jobs to be vaccinated during regular in-hospital hours.”
Loretto and other safety nets that treat large numbers of low-income people have struggled financially as the number of patients without insurance has increased within the last few years.
Costs have continued to rise during the pandemic. Miller told Crain's in May 2020 that Loretto saw revenue plummet 40 percent, with costs up about $600,000 to cover personal protective equipment and hazard pay for front-line workers. The safety-net was one of a handful of local community hospitals that didn't qualify for CARES Act funds set aside for hospitals that treated large numbers of coronavirus patients.
The hospital board said Friday it had reprimanded Miller and Ahmed “for their roles in mistakes of judgment made,” but did not specify any sanctions at the time.