published Friday, April 27th, 2012

Erlanger begins search for CEO

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Erlanger trustees approved resolutions to establish a search committee for a new CEO and hire a consulting team to address operational improvements during their monthly meeting Thursday evening.

Neither resolution included an estimated cost.

The public hospital has had a difficult financial year, losing $17 million in the last nine months. It expects to lose more money in April.

Former CEO Jim Brexler resigned in December, and Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson has served as interim CEO.

Dr. Phyllis Miller, who will lead the search committee, said board members had hoped the hospital would be on better financial footing before they began their search for a new CEO but realize the need to move ahead.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes for three to four months now and hope to have our first meeting next week,” Miller said.

The search committee will have eight or nine members — recommended by Miller and appointed by Board Chairman Ron Loving — who will come from the board, medical staff and academic staff associated with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga.

The committee likely will hire a search firm to conduct the search, which is expected to take six to 12 months, Miller said.

Some of the search firms they talked with said it could take up to two years, but Miller said the board wants to move more quickly than that.

The second resolution was presented by Woodard-Thompson, who had told the finance board Monday evening she thought the hospital needed to hire a consulting firm to help turn around the struggling hospital.

“We are looking at a lot of cultural change in a short period of time,” Woodard-Thompson told trustees Thursday. “We need to turn this around quickly. One of the things we all recognize is that Erlanger has to be quicker with implementation.”

Woodard-Thompson said she hopes the consultants will be able to assess the overall operations of the hospital and then work to implement changes.

According to the resolution, any contract with the firm would be approved by Loving and Woodard-Thompson.

Woodard-Thompson said the cost to hire a firm may be about $300,000, but trustees hope to negotiate a contract that would include certain improvements and benchmarks achieved before the firm would be eligible for payment.

The resolution says the firm will report results of the operational assessment to both the board and the CEO on an ongoing basis.

Several board members had requested a joint reporting method.

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about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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