Mr. Worthington's comments make the best case yet for "de-politicizing" the board of trustees at Erlanger by appointing health care professionals rather than political or business associates without health care experience to the board.
Mr. Worthington admits to the board's failure to adequately supervise Mr. Brexler, but, interestingly, exonerates himself from such inadequacy. In 2008, as a board member, Mr. Worthington received a copy of the enclosed letter from a group of physicians warning of precisely what he complains about now - an exodus of physicians.
There was no board action then.
Four years after that warning to the board, the prediction has turned into reality and Chattanooga's most valuable health care asset finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy. Remarkably, nearly half a year after identifying failed executive leadership, and after initial praise of that leadership upon "retirement" of the CEO which has turned into sharp criticism, there has been no substantial change in executive leadership (beyond Mr. Brexler and his father-in-law) - only the familiar staff lay-offs followed by a cry for yet another "consultant".
As a practicing physician in Chattanooga for nearly 20 years, I've watched the Erlanger drama unfold in many acts, but the plot has remained the same. In the current case, even the characters have remained the same. If there is any hope for Erlanger in these difficult economic times and in an era of health care system reform, the political leaders of our community must find the courage to modify Erlanger's charter and seek the expertise of true health care professionals to populate the board of trustees rather than to be hired as mere consultants. Perhaps then, a competent executive leadership can be found whose tenure is dependent upon the success of the institution rather than its ability to manipulate the members of the board.
Dr. Alexander A. Stratienko