Erlanger reviewing UT's conformance to affiliation agreement

Erlanger Health System
photo Kevin Spiegel

The Erlanger Board of Trustees directed executive management to review and enforce the terms of the hospital's affiliation agreement with the University of Tennessee and its Health Sciences Center, after unanimously approving a resolution during its November meeting.

The resolution was prompted by concerns over "noncompliance with deadlines that have been missed," and the university is aware of those issues, hospital president and CEO Kevin Spiegel said in the meeting. But details of how the university failed to comply were not discussed.

"That's a very important question to ask, and that's a conversation that we want to have ... but we will have that conversation in the right forum," said board chairman Jack Studer.

A copy of the resolution was given to the Times Free Press, but an Erlanger spokesperson said information about noncompliance specifics cannot be released because of attorney work-product doctrine.

Trustee Jennifer Stanley emphasized the importance of Erlanger's status as a teaching hospital, but said the board has "danced around" issues with the university for awhile.

photo Bruce Shack, MD

"There are some significant challenges in the relationship with UT, so I'm glad that we're tackling them head on," she said.

Bruce Shack, dean of the UT College of Medicine in Chattanooga, expressed discontent that the resolution wasn't brought to him sooner.

"I personally don't think that the university is in substantial noncompliance with any issues of the current affiliation agreement," Shack said. "There's some points that we've had discussions about, and we on the university side are dedicated to working tirelessly and diligently to resolve these issues."

Shack said that he's determined to resolve conflict and preserve UT's relationship with Erlanger, which has existed for more than 40 years.

"This is a longstanding partnership, which is important to both organizations, as well as to residents and fellows undergoing training at the Erlanger Health System," Gregg Gentry, chief administrative officer for Erlanger, said in an email on Monday. "We fully anticipate that by working closely together with a very focused approach, both organizations will improve and provide enhanced services."

The board also approved outsourcing of the Central Sterile Department, renovation of the fourth floor cardiac catheterization labs and a $450 bonus - up $50 from last year - for more than 4,700 hospital employees.

Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at or 423-757-6673.