Roy Exum: An Erlanger CEO Tonight?

Monday, February 18, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

It’s an easy bet that when 16 disgruntled Erlanger Hospital doctors signed a letter opposing the hiring of a new CEO by the hospital’s board of trustees, a collective groan – or, better yet, a moan -- went up from approximately 135 other hospital physicians who are now almost at wit’s end after almost 15 months of abysmal leadership and glaring incompetence by our region’s Level 1 medical provider.

A special meeting of the Board of Trustees has been called by Chairman Ron Loving tonight in a much-anticipated effort to seat a new Chief Executive Officer and finally begin a massive rebuilding effort of both governance and integrity at Chattanooga’s largest hospital. And despite a last-ditch effort by a very few malcontents, the overwhelming majority of the medical staff and the 4,000 employees are hoping one of three finalists will indeed be chosen tonight in an effort to lead the medical center back to prosperity.

In stark reality, the hiring of a CEO, as huge as it may well be, will not be as vital as the monumental task of assembling a new Board of Trustees in coming weeks. As part of the cure prescribed by the local delegation of the state legislators, a new group of nine prominent trustees will replace the existing board and the newly-chosen CEO will answer to those Hamilton County citizens who have not yet been identified or appointed.

Erlanger, after losing $10.5 million in the last fiscal year, has become so “dysfunctional,” in the words of one state legislator, the area delegation has fast-forwarded the formation of a new governance in the Legislature. The state House has approved the new measure unanimously.

But the hiring of a new CEO, so sorely needed after the hospital has reported further losses of $2.5 million in the first half of this fiscal year, is considered as both imperative and urgent by Chattanooga’s top medical figures and concerned community leaders alike. Tonight’s meeting by the hospital’s trustees has been eagerly anticipated as the first positive step after existing leadership on both the current board and the administration alike has floundered so badly a team of consultants had to be summoned.

The unfortunate “eleventh hour” letter, signed by a predictable cast hoping to prolong and further stall the desperately needed changes, captured the top headline in the Sunday editions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, but much more noticeable was the lack of signatures by other physicians, particularly by those who are considered as the true medical leaders of the hospital and other department heads who are understandably disheartened and disgusted.

Instead, the overwhelming consensus of the medical community is to select a CEO tonight from the three finalists who have been chosen in a proper and well-versed process and have been interviewed and vetted by the board. Of the three finalists, it appears Kevin Spiegel will most likely get first consideration. He is currently an administrator for a hospital in Memphis.

Spiegel, as well as the two other finalists, knows a new Board of Trustees will soon be chosen by the area legislators in an earnest attempt to assure quality medical care continues and will eliminate many of the pitfalls that have combined to put the hospital in such distress. The new board, which will finally select its own members rather than have them assigned by special-interest groups, will hopefully institute a non-profit 501(c) (3) type of operating arrangement that will be further invaluable to the hospital.

Spiegel is said to be quite comfortable with the challenge of leading Erlanger and putting together an executive team to deal with a growing number of problems. The biggest unknown is who exactly he will be working for – nine trustees who have yet to be chosen.

Until the new board is formed, whoever is chosen as the new CEO will be employed at the behest of the board now in place and it stands to reason if the current board offers the job, they have confidence in the candidate’s ability based on a year-long process by the selection committee.

The selection of a new CEO could be one of the last official acts by the present board but, if the appointment turns out well, it would be a tribute to those who made the choice after enduring such a stormy tenure.

Why Greg Martin Is The Best Choice For District 3

I cannot fathom electing Joe Smith for County Commission District 3. The support Joe Smith has received from Councilman Chris Anderson and other leading local Democrats is great cause to distrust his intentions.  Greg Martin is the GOP nominee for District 3, and frankly, he has an outstanding record of elected service in Hamilton County. I would describe Greg Martin as ... (click for more)

Joe Smith Will Bring Sanity To The County Commission

What in the world is going on in the County Commission room on the fourth floor of the Hamilton County Courthouse?  “If you don't vote for me I won't vote for you" - or-  “I want to take back my vote for the chairman.”  Seemingly back door agreements being made in from the sunshine. Our County Commission needs a peacemaker, a counselor, a consensus builder, and ... (click for more)

Atlantic Capital Bank, Formerly FSG Bank, Moves Home Office To Warehouse Row

Atlantic Capital Bank, NA announced Friday that it has sold the current home office at 531 Broad St. to Harbert Realty of Birmingham, for  $5,375,000.  The bank’s new home office signals the start of a brand transition from the FSG Bank name, currently found in its eastern Tennessee and northwest Georgia markets.  Atlantic Capital will occupy the third floor ... (click for more)

TDEC Asks Residents In Southeastern Counties To Limit Water Usage To Ease Drought Conditions

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is asking the public to temporarily limit water usage for non-essential purposes as areas in Tennessee’s southeastern counties face extreme drought conditions. Residents who receive water from the following public utilities are advised to limit their use until drought conditions subside: Fall Creek ... (click for more)

CPA Blanks CCS, 1-0, in A-AA State Soccer Semis

MURFREESBORO - The scoring opportunities were few for both teams, but Christ Presbyterian used a shot and a deflection off a defender for a 1-0 win against Chattanooga Christian in an A-AA state semifinal match here Thursday at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex. District 12 player of the year Sarah Sievertsen scored the winning goal in the 54th minute as the Lions advance ... (click for more)

DeBord Happy To Have Kelly, Hurd In Vols' Backfield

Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Larry Scott spoke reporters at Wednesday's press conference in the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio. No. 18 Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) takes on South Carolina (3-4, 1-4 SEC) on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium with a 7:15 ... (click for more)