published Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Important Erlanger

Erlanger has been an indispensable medical service provider for Chattanooga and the surrounding region for well over a century.

It got its start when a French nobleman, Baron Frederic Emile d’Erlanger, donated $5,000 for a new hospital here. The facility would be named for the baron’s Louisiana-native wife, Baroness Marguerite Mathilde Slidell d’Erlanger. The hospital opened with 72 beds in 1899.

There has been enormous progress and expansion since then, of course, illustrated by the fact that today Erlanger Health System includes five campuses: North, East/Women’s East, Bledsoe, and the Baroness campus in downtown Chattanooga, which includes Children’s Hospital.

Erlanger also operates two valuable community health centers: Southside and Dodson Avenue.

So there is no disputing Erlanger’s important role in promoting and protecting the health of area residents — and there is no doubt that Erlanger, as well as a number of other excellent local hospitals, will continue to fill that role ably.

There is, however, debate about what if any severance package will be provided to departing CEO Jim Brexler.

Erlanger’s board of trustees has accepted Brexler’s resignation, which takes effect Dec. 31. But the board rejected — by a 4-4 vote, with three board members absent — an approximately $727,000 severance package for Brexler.

It should be pointed out that that does not necessarily mean Brexler will get no severance. There could be further discussions on that issue.

But opinions naturally tend to differ on the performance of virtually anyone in a high-profile position of great responsibility — as demonstrated by the split vote on the severance package for Brexler.

In the meantime, Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson is serving as temporary president and CEO at Erlanger.

And we have no doubt that Erlanger will keep serving the medical needs of our community and of people in the surrounding area while the current disagreements are resolved.

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