published Friday, January 27th, 2012

Former Erlanger vice president Doug Fisher gets year’s pay in severance package

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An Erlanger vice president and father-in-law to the public hospital’s former CEO has accepted a voluntary severance agreement that pays him a year’s salary in a lump sum, unused vacation time and provides health insurance for a year.

Doug Fisher, who served as Erlanger’s vice president of government affairs, marketing and community relations, left the hospital on Jan. 13 as part of an executive restructuring.

The process, which officials with the struggling hospital have said will save them up to $1.6 million a year, included eliminating six vice president positions.

Four of the people in those positions have moved to other positions within Erlanger, organizations related to Erlanger or to the University of Tennessee. One position, senior vice president of physician services, was vacant.

Dr. Keith Helton previously held the physician services position but has not been in a leadership role at the hospital since September, spokeswoman Pat Charles said Thursday.

Helton’s employment with Erlanger ended earlier this month, Charles said.

In a statement Thursday, Fisher cited numerous achievements in which he played a role during his tenure, including starting a team of Physician Liaisons in 2009, the Erlanger at Volkswagen Drive project, the state’s hospital enhanced fee legislation and increased trauma funding in both Tennessee and Georgia.

“I am very proud of the achievements my incredible team and I were able to accomplish over the past 51⁄2 years,” he said. “Erlanger’s mission as the safety net provider hospital for the region makes it perhaps our most critical community asset.”

Fisher was involved closely with events surrounding former CEO Jim Brexler’s exodus in December. Brexler was given $728,000 in severance in a 5-4 divided board vote earlier this month.

Some board trustees argued Brexler should have been fired for cause, but others said his contract left them no choice but to pay him a severance.

Brexler hired Fisher as a government affairs contractor in August 2006.

In January 2007, after Fisher received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Erlanger hired him full time as director of government affairs. Fisher became a vice president at Erlanger in December 2007.

Brexler announced his engagement to Fisher’s daughter, Kelly Manning, in August 2008.

Fisher was paid a salary of $157,014. He received that money, less customary withholdings, in a lump sum payment within eight days of the agreement, according to the severance agreement.

Fisher will be entitled to his current medical insurance coverage for four months and receive eight months at a “leave of absence” rate if he chooses to, the agreement says.

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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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