Erlanger bill goes to Gov. Bill Haslam

Erlanger bill goes to Gov. Bill Haslam

February 26th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local Regional News

Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - A private act restructuring Erlanger Health System's governing board is on its way to Gov. Bill Haslam for his consideration.

"I wish them well," said Sen. Todd Gardenhire, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, which passed the legislation 29-0 without discussion. "We're going to do all we can to support them and make that thing hum and be the jewel of the city that it ought to be."

The House passed the bill earlier this month.

Local lawmakers hope the legislation will help cure a variety of financial and other ills they see plaguing Erlanger in recent years and a way to allay concerns the University of Tennessee's College of Medicine was engaged in a power play to control the hospital.

The bill whittles the existing 12-member board down to nine trustees. While the board will be self-perpetuating, it gives joint veto power to the seven-member Hamilton County legislative delegation and the Hamilton County Commission over appointments.

To get the new board in place, the bill provides that local legislators, "after consultation" with Hamilton County's mayor, will recommend to the full General Assembly initial appointees to the reconstituted Erlanger board.

As the bill moved through the General Assembly, Erlanger's current board continued its search for a new CEO, last week, hiring Memphis-based Methodist University Hospital CEO Kevin M. Spiegel.

"We're not going to interfere with it. We weren't going to interfere to start with," Gardenhire said. "We just want to make sure everything's ready to go in the future."