published Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Erlanger leaders act hastily with little public debate

Charlsetta Woodward-Thompson, Interim CEO for Erlanger, sits third from the left with her staff at the Erlanger board meeting Monday night.
Charlsetta Woodward-Thompson, Interim CEO for Erlanger, sits third from the left with her staff at the Erlanger board meeting Monday night.
Photo by Jay Bailey /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Erlanger board of trustees may need medical intervention. They seem to be drinking some Kool-Aid laced with fantasy enhancers.

Could they possibly think a reasonable observer would conclude they needed no discussion of three hospital CEO candidates before a member threw out one name and moments later got a majority vote -- 5-3 -- on the first try during a 16-minute meeting?

And, by the way, that 16 minutes included the time it took for the board to take another vote to call the decision unanimous. There has never, in the history of the world, been a 5-3 vote that was unanimous.

But perhaps the public and the newspaper should cut board members Kim White, Michael Griffin, Dr. Phyllis Miller, Dr. Dan Fisher, Dr. Nita Shumaker, Donnie Hucherson, James Worthington and Russell King some slack.

This misguided move comes before they are to be replaced by a new board under governance rules that will be considered soon by the state Senate. The bill to reinvent Erlanger's hospital authority rules zipped through the Tennessee House of Representatives last week.

Perhaps these folks -- some of whom were also determining hospital policy and approving hospital finances through the disastrous years of former CEO Jim Brexler -- didn't think anyone would notice that their special, called board meeting had an orchestrated feel.

Seriously, would everyone who believes the board met privately for about 45 minutes beforehand to discuss "parliamentary procedure" please stand up?

Perhaps the no-voters -- Hutcherson, Worthington and King -- voted against the only CEO candidate offered for appearances: After all, board members didn't give themselves a let's-don't-vote option or another candidate to consider.

Perhaps they wanted the clutch of doctors glowering in the back of the board room to at least think the board listened to physicians' and lawmakers' concerns that the vote was rushed. The board had only received the names of three CEO finalists in mid-December after a year-long search, and members had never discussed them publicly. State lawmakers that same month had cautioned the board to hold off on a choice while bills are being shaped to change the hospital's governance.

Perhaps once all that advice was spurned and the no-discussion vote was taken, the board wanted to cover for the actors in this drama. That could have been the reason for a motion to call a 5-3 vote unanimous. Those three no-voters wouldn't want the new CEO seeing them as having no confidence in him, nor would they want to be the new CEO's first targets.

Whatever the reasoning, the board should be ashamed of its brazen and non-transparent thumb-to-the-nose at the public.

The board's revisionist history act was just a bonus for our entertainment.

It might be funny if we didn't have to wonder what else they've done while discussing parliamentary procedure and revising the record.

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aae1049 said...

Erlanger hospital must be saved for the public's best interst. They are not only the ONLY regional trauma hospital, they bring new life in the world, and transition end of life in the most respectful and dignified manner. My son's father recently passed away in the ICU unit of Erlanger. The Erlanger staff was the most professional, kind, and respectful people. They preserve the dignity of end of life. They also treated my son and I so kind. I will never forget them for how they treat people in trauma and end of life situations.

February 21, 2013 at 11:23 p.m.
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