Tri-City CEO on the chopping block

Tim Moran's termination would be the second in three years

The board of Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, Calif., will decide Thursday whether to part ways with CEO Tim Moran less than two years after hiring him and just a few weeks after lauding his role in spearheading a partnership with UC San Diego Health.

Tri-City Chief Marketing Officer David Bennett confirmed Monday that the Southern California public hospital has moved to terminate Moran at will, which is allowed under the contract Moran signed when he was hired in June 2014.

Bennett would not elaborate on the reasons why Moran is being dismissed. He also declined to comment when asked why, as recently as Feb, 22, the system sang Moran's praises.

“Thanks to Tim's leadership, Tri-City is better positioned than ever to efficiently and expertly meet the diverse and vital healthcare needs of our community,” Jim D'Agostino, chair of the Tri-City Healthcare District board, was quoted as saying on the hospital's website.

Moran's contract allows a severance payment of $525,000 or one year's salary, plus health and dental coverage for 12 months.

That salary has been targeted by a local healthcare workers union, which filed an initiative for the November ballot that would limit the salaries of public hospital executives to $250,000 a year. It would also require the 10 highest-paid administrators to annually and publicly post their compensation.

“It's long overdue for Tri-City Medical Center to be accountable to taxpayers in the region,” Charles Harris, a transportation driver at Tri-City Medical Center, said in a news release issued by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. “For years, the top executives at this hospital have given themselves bloated salaries and benefits well beyond what's reasonable at a public healthcare district.”

SEIU-UHW mounted a similar campaign in the Bay Area in 2012 and won voter approval for a salary cap at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. A judge later overturned the cap, concluding that the measure overstepped the bounds of the initiative process.

If Tri-City decides to terminate Moran, it will be the second time in less than three years that Tri-City dismisses its CEO.

In October 2013, the board fired CEO Larry Anderson, citing a need to “take corrective action” after a whistle-blower alleged “improprieties.”

Anderson denied all of the allegations.

At stake this time, however, is a pending partnership with UC San Diego Health to create an integrated network of physicians and a healthcare plan.

The deal should close in June. The San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that UCSD released a statement saying it remains committed to Tri-City.

In January, Tri-City Medical Center agreed to pay nearly $3.3 million to settle allegations that it violated the Stark law and False Claims Act by entering into prohibited financial agreements with community-based physicians and physician groups.

Aurora Aguilar

Aurora Aguilar assigns and edits news stories for Modern Healthcare magazine and its online newsletters. She previously worked at Chicago Public Media, the NPR affiliate in Chicago, where she served as news director after stints as a senior project editor for Front & Center and senior producer of Eight Forty-Eight with Steve Edwards. Prior to that, she covered crime, courts, business and municipal government for the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights and Elgin, Ill. She has won numerous awards from the Chicago Headline Club, the Associated Press and the National Association of Black Journalists among other organizations.

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