published Friday, January 28th, 2011

Erlanger CEO vows painting career over

Erlanger Chief Executive Jim Brexler said Thursday night his career as a painter is over but he's anxious to get back to work leading what he called "a very caring and loving" organization.

Brexler, who heads Chattanooga's biggest hospital, praised Erlanger's staff for the care he received while he was hospitalized after he fell from a 12-foot ladder while trying to paint the nursery of his Signal Mountain home last week. Brexler said he suffered a compression fracture and a torn shoulder and rotator cup.

"I have five absolutely beautiful screws in my arm and that's going to be the first picture that goes in the nursery to display to my kids what their Dad was trying to do," Brexler quipped. "I understand now that God invented painters for someone other than me."

After Brexler said his arm "was rebuilt" from the fall, the 59-year-old executive went home only to return to the hospital in the middle of the night after his lungs nearly shut down in an apparent reaction to the anesthesia, pain medicine and an undiagnosed case of sleep apnea. Brexler, who was treated for the respiratory arrest, said he might not have survived without the help of his wife and emergency personnel from Erlanger.

The Erlanger CEO dismissed claims that his care was any different from that of other patients, noting that he was admitted to the hospital under a different name.

"I just wanted to tell you that the organization that you are trustees of has the best group of people in the entire world, and I can now tell you that from first-hand experience," Brexler told his board.

Board meeting

Erlanger Health System will spend nearly $4.5 million this year to continue to install new General Electric patient monitors.

Erlanger trustees Thursday agreed to fund another phase of a $15 million program to update the computers, software and monitors in each of the patient rooms of Chattanooga's biggest hospital. The new devices are quicker, more mobile and capable of more easily recording patient vital signs.

The equipment is replacing the previous generation of monitors bought in 1993 and 1994.

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