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.

royexum@aol.com


My Brother’s Keeper Program May Have Lofty Goal, But Makes Faux Pas

A federal president known for misuse of the Christian scriptures has done it again, but this time with Chattanooga city government following him into a program whose name falls from the lips of humankind’s first murderer.  The query “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is from a slab of dialogue in which Cain is defiant to his creator, who is asking the whereabouts of his missing ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Scrooge’ Of The Year

As we move into the last weekend before Christmas, the “Scrooge of the Year” has just appeared in Aurora, Ill. Actually Connie Ley has just died. She passed away on Nov. 25, but in her wake left the worst will many around the country have ever heard – her last wishes included that her nine-year-old dog should be put to death, cremated, and buried with her. Bela, a beautiful German ... (click for more)

2 Suspects Sought In Armed Robbery At Highway 153 Long John Silver's

Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery that happened Friday morning. At approximately  8:10  a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5317 Highway 153 for a robbery at the Long John Silver's.  Officers discovered that two black men, wearing hoodies and masks, entered the Long John Silver's and forced the assistant manager ... (click for more)

Pair Charged With Beating Man With Stick, Taking His Wallet

Two men are charged with beating a man with a large stick while he slept on the steps of a downtown church, then taking his wallet. Jerry Quincy Allen, 45, and James Leo Boas, 40, both of 727 E. 11th St., are charged with aggravated robbery. In the incident on Wednesday, Bradley Casehart said he and a friend were asleep at Tompkin Chapel Church on Palmetto Street. He ... (click for more)

McCallie Claims Own Mat Title with Depth

  With no champions, yet good depth, host McCallie won the 34 th annual McCallie Wrestling Invitational Tournament Saturday with 223 points followed by runner-up Union Grove (196) and third place Cleveland (186.5) in the 27-team field. In winning a record eighth team title, McCallie had runners-up in James Westbrooks (126) and Brock Herring (132), plus three thirds and ... (click for more)

Hawks Defeat Riverdale, 55-43, For Rhea Title

EVENSVILLE, Tenn. – Hamilton Heights had a chance to win the boys and girls title in the Rhea County Holiday Hoops tournament Saturday night. The Hawks delivered. The Lady Hawks came up short. Once-beaten Hamilton Heights, getting pivotal back-to-back 3-pointers by Silas Adheke and Joan Duran in the final two minutes and sterling efforts by Ezekiel Balogun and Abdulhakim ... (click for more)