published Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Vote on Erlanger CEO scheduled for Monday

 Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.
Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
WHAT'S NEXT

Erlanger's Board of Trustees will meet Monday at 6 p.m. to discuss and possibly vote on a new CEO.

Erlanger Health System appears to be on track to have a new CEO chosen by this time next week.

Board Chairman Ron Loving said trustees will discuss and likely vote on the hospital's new chief executive at a called meeting Monday.

"I do expect there will be a vote," Loving said. "The [search] committee has done its work, and now it's in the hands of the trustees."

The meeting was scheduled as a new bill restructuring Erlanger's board is moving through Tennessee's Legislature. The final version of the bill was released Monday.

The bill -- which shrinks the board from 12 to nine members and changes the format of members' appointments -- is expected to be passed in March.

"It's an incredible time of change for the hospital," Loving said. "I think everyone is anxious to see things move forward."

The hospital's search committee has narrowed the candidates to three men: Rear Adm. Donald Gintzig, a senior healthcare executive with the U.S. Navy; Ken Haynes, former CEO of the seven-hospital St. Joseph Health System in Kentucky; and Kevin Spiegel, who oversees Methodist University Hospital in Memphis and is an assistant professor with University of Tennessee College of Medicine.

Spiegel has been the assumed frontrunner -- igniting concerns that the College of Medicine would eventually take over Erlanger, where its doctors already practice and teach.

State House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who said in January that he would never let the UT College of Medicine take control of Erlanger as long as he was "living and breathing and in the Legislature," said recent conversations with UT leaders and Spiegel have alleviated his concern about UT's level of involvement or influence.

He added he is not worried that the university will attempt to re-brand Erlanger.

"I've been assured that that is not the case," McCormick said.

In Memphis, leaders of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are discussing the rebranding of Methodist University Hospital and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital with the "UT" name and developing a women's and infants tower in conjunction with The Med/Regional Medical Center that would carry the University of Tennessee name, according to 2012 minutes of the UT board of trustees' health affairs committee.

McCormick also said he believes that the board had slowed its hiring process enough to hear the concerns of state legislators initially worried about the board's apparent haste to hire a CEO before the governing body would be restructured.

"I'm going to try to be supportive of what the current board decides," he said.

Erlanger trustees began the search for a new CEO in April, after former CEO Jim Brexler was forced out in December 2011 amid financial turmoil and souring relationships with physicians.

The hospital's chief operating officer, Charlesetta Woodward-Thompson, has served as the hospital's interim CEO.

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