BGA, Block Club Chicago Win National Award for Exposing Loretto Hospital Scandals

Block Club’s reports about unfair COVID-19 vaccine distribution led to a collaboration with the BGA that exposed mismanagement, clouted contracts and extravagance at the West Side hospital. The reports prompted an FBI probe.

Photo by Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago.

The Better Government Association and Block Club Chicago were among the winners of the Best in Business Award by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing for exposing “widening scandals” at Loretto Hospital.

The organization — based at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication — recognizes outstanding business journalism conducted in the U.S. and abroad.

The collaboration between Block Club Chicago and the BGA was recognized in the Health/Science category for projects reported by small newsrooms.

Throughout 2021, the BGA’s David Jackson and Block Club’s Kelly Bauer worked to elaborate on Bauer’s reporting uncovering a corrupted COVID-19 vaccination program at Loretto Hospital on the city’s West Side

Their dogged pursuit led to a series of reports uncovering mismanagement, clouted contracts, and exotic trips by powerful board members.

The series — which began with Bauer’s reports that vaccines meant for distribution in some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods were instead being diverted to pals of hospital executives in Trump Tower — led to an ongoing FBI investigation.

“Americans stepped over anyone they had to in order to get theirs first, and hospital staff stretched to their limits received little in the way of backup. Kelly Bauer and David Jackson’s coverage of vaccine distribution at Loretto Hospital shows us the real damage that was done as a result,” the judges commented.

“Bauer and Jackson delivered a string of remarkable scoops that regularly drove coverage of the widening scandals at Loretto. Their extensive documentation of the straight lines between payoffs for key hospital officials and deteriorating services at the short-staffed hospital forced reforms, resignations, and criminal probes.

“The work also offers a grim reminder that the deadliest problem in America’s healthcare system isn’t the coronavirus,” the judges said.

The SABEW announced the 162 recipients for its 27th annual Best in Business Awards, honoring excellence in business journalism, in a press release on Thursday.

The Best in Business Awards, covering business, finance and economic work published, broadcast and/or posted in 2021, attracted a record 1,277 entries from 194 news organizations across all platforms ranging from international, national and regional news outlets to specialized business publications, according to the press release. Find a complete list of recipients here.