It takes a village to convert a public hospital that's also the largest and busiest hospital in the Chattanooga region to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the Erlanger Board of Trustees was at the heart of the effort to do just that.
More than two years ago, trustees on the board began evaluating a more sustainable model for Erlanger -- which is the area's only safety net provider that offers essential specialty services not available at other area hospitals, such as the highest level of trauma, stroke and neonatal care.
Not only is Erlanger the region's largest medical provider, projected to treat more than 33,500 inpatients and nearly 175,500 emergency room visitors this year, it's one of the region's largest employers with 6,700-plus people working across the system.
Transitioning the health system with minimal disruption to day-to-day activities at the hospital required that trustees -- who are volunteer appointees that receive no compensation for their roles -- work alongside and secure by-in from numerous local and state-level officials, including the former and current Hamilton County mayor, the Hamilton County Commission, the Chattanooga mayor and the Hamilton County Legislative Delegation.
Board Chair Shelia Boyington says it took the unique makeup of the board and others to make the transition happen, including placing former Board Chair Jim Coleman as the CEO for Erlanger.
"Having this board of trustees comprised of individuals who possessed a diverse range of skills and expertise in health care administration, finance, legal matters and community engagement provided the right combination to execute something that has been talked about for many years," Boyington says, noting that this community effort is especially noteworthy given that the health care industry was grappling with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the conversion.
If you could choose one word to describe the Erlanger board, what would it be?
Fifty years from now, what do you hope people remember about the Erlanger board and/or this moment in Erlanger history?
That this board was extraordinarily dedicated to the future of Erlanger and health care in the region. We came together from various backgrounds and saw the unique and pivotal importance that Erlanger plays to the region and were committed to transforming the structure of Erlanger so that it could thrive and grow, as it has.
What is a lesser-known fact about the Erlanger board that people should know?
While the board is an unpaid, volunteer board, each member, past and current, has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time to helping Erlanger serve the community. This board has probably been more involved and dedicated more time to the betterment of Erlanger and health care in our region than any before. We are passionate about Erlanger and its mission to compassionately care for people, and being so, embarked on the effort transforming to a private non-profit 501(c)(3) over two years ago. Making this move will allow this mission continue this for decades to come.
Past and present Erlanger trustees who are part of the COHC community outreach award:
* Sheila Boyington
* Vicky Gregg
* Jim Coleman
* Ken Connor
* John Germ
* Linda Moss Mines
* Dr. Mitch Mutter
* Dr. Chris Poole
* Dr. Phil Burns
* Warren McEwen
* Lemon Williams
* Barry Large
* Debbie Ingram