Why the hurry? Erlanger board meets in closed session to perhaps pick a CEO

Why the hurry? Erlanger board meets in closed session to perhaps pick a CEO

February 18th, 2013 in Opinion Times

Erlanger tile

The Erlanger board - never a model of doing business in the sunshine - plans a called meeting tonight to discuss and likely vote on the hospital's new chief executive.

Much of the "discussion" -- perhaps even a decision -- is expected to be made out of public hearing in a "closed session."

What's more, the board is flaunting advice from our local legislative delegation to hold off on a hire because the hospital authority's charter is certain to change. In fact, the state House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the bill making that change. The legislation whittles the 12-member board to nine members and sets new rules for conflict of interest and other governance. The legislation is on a fast track: The Senate is expected to take it up this week.

So why, why, why would the board of the region's only public hospital insist on hiring a new chief when his or her contract could be terminated early -- and with a very expensive parachute payment?

In wouldn't be the first time: In fact, almost all of Erlanger's chiefs have left without warm parties but with plenty of cash.

The board should be overhauled. And its members should be ashamed.

If there's a reasonable explanation why board members think a rushed CEO hire will save them from some uncertain authority change, its members should discuss those reasons openly. And they should discuss the merits of each candidate in the sunshine.

After all, the hospital is publicly owned and taxpayer subsidized.

Aside from that, it is primarily financed with patient dollars.

And we're all patients now and again.

The idea that these sitting Erlanger trustees -- appointed, by the way, by our elected officials -- have the consummate gall to close all of us out of these discussions is maddening.

The process of change at Erlanger should be transparent.

As we've noted before, the problems at Erlanger have occurred largely because of this board's abuse of the public interest.

What's going on behind closed doors right now contributes to that core problem.