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Northwest Community CEO: Allegations against new CMO 'baseless'

Northwest Community Hospital CEO Bruce Crowther is taking steps to quell a budding controversy about his new chief medical officer, six months after the abrupt resignation of the Arlington Heights, Ill., institution's previous top doctor.

Instead of glowing about the qualifications of his new employee, Mr. Crowther's email had to acknowledge that some doctors already knew about the hiring because they had already received an “anonymous package of materials” about Dr. Benink.Mr. Crowther did not disclose the substance of the allegations, which hospital officials say are “baseless.”

Even if the allegations are without merit, the episode reflects the hospital administration's broader communication problems, according to some members of the hospital's medical staff. Many doctors did not know the hospital had even picked a chief medical officer until Friday's startling email.

The unusual episode is just the latest challenge facing Mr. Crowther, who in November announced he would retire next year, after 20 years on the job.

The hospital has had two rounds of layoffs this year, including the elimination of 3 percent of its workforce in September. The job cuts may have helped Northwest to an operating profit of $11.7 million in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, its first annual profit since 2008.

St. Anthony's CEO told Mr. Crowther that similar allegations were made against Dr. Benink after he instituted changes in the emergency department, according to the email, a copy of which was obtained by Crain's.

An OSF St. Anthony spokeswoman confirmed that Dr. Benink is slated to leave the hospital effective Jan. 1. Dr. Benink was not available for comment.

Dr. Benink is currently licensed to practice in Illinois and is board certified in emergency medicine, state records show. He graduated from Rush Medical College in 1987 and completed a residency at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in 1990.

In his email, Mr. Crowther told the staff, “I trust you can rally behind Dr. Benink . . . just as you would want to be supported.”
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