A group of female Austin community leaders are urging Loretto Hospital’s board of directors to fire the embattled CEO George Miller, describing that as a vital step toward restoring the trust between the hospital and the Austin community.

The hospital has been involved in a growing controversy over its executives using Loretto’s COVID-19 vaccine doses to benefit people who weren’t eligible for the vaccines. Miller and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Anosh Ahmed were both responsible for vaccinating people who were not eligible for the vaccine. Anosh has since resigned while Miller was given a two-week suspension that won’t begin until Ahmed’s replacement is found.

The activists’ letter was sent to Edward Hogan, the chairman of Loretto’s board, on April 5. The activists said on April 8 that the hospital had not responded yet.

Mary Gardner, one of the 13 activists who signed the letter, said that they remain hopeful that the board will have a dialogue with them. And while they wanted to avoid protesting outside Loretto because they didn’t want to interfere with patients trying to get inside, they were considering some other ways to push the board to meet with them.

Around two weeks ago, Gardner launched a petition demanding that Miller and Ahmed step down. She kept the petition going after Ahmed resigned. As of April 9, the petition had 248 signatures.

About a week ago, Gardner was approached by a group of women who were just as outraged by the executives’ actions. They also weren’t happy with the fact that the city decided to suspend the delivery of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, only delivering the second doses for patients who already got their first doses at the hospital.

“I would love to see the Mayor return the doses that back over to Loretto, because it is about access and the fact that this is our community hospital,” she said. “

While Gardner herself got vaccinated at the Catalyst Circle Rock Protect Chicago Plus temporary vaccination site, she said that those temporary vaccination sites don’t make up for Loretto’s absence.

The letter’s signatories include Tara Stamps, an education activist who ran for alderman against Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) in the last two municipal elections, and Bertha Purnell, the founder of the Mothers On a Mission 28 anti-violence group, among others.

In the letter, the group “respectfully demand[ed] a virtual meeting” with the board “as soon as possible […] This is about the future of Loretto Hospital, the dedicated staff, and those of us with no titles, just big hearts demanding that all individuals be held accountable for their reprehensible decisions against the Austin community,” they wrote.

Gardner said that the group hopes to have a discussion with the board about how it can restore trust with the community.

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...