I am writing in response to the July 14 story "Turmoil in the boardroom" (p. 18). I am dismayed by MODERN HEALTHCARE's biased headline and printing of opinions as facts without verifying the accuracy of the information provided.
First, and most important, neither the board of directors nor MetroWest Medical Center, Framingham, Mass., are in turmoil. Resignations of board members and hospital chief executive officers for one reason or another occur on a regular basis throughout the industry. To presume that such resignations have a long-term detrimental impact on those hospitals is absurd.
In the case of MetroWest, the board certainly has not been affected by the departure of Lauren Stiller Rikleen. While Rikleen was a longtime board member, her departure, in a show of personal support for the former CEO, left behind 11 extremely capable and dedicated board members supportive of working with their Columbia partner to implement the changes necessary to ensure MetroWest's future success.
Much of Rikleen's resignation letter dealt with the supposed lack of capital infusion by Columbia. I would note two things: First, the sales agreement between the two organizations did not specify any future level of capital spending by Columbia; second, in addition to paying off more than $50 million in debt at the close of the transaction, Columbia has, within the first full year of the partnership, invested $20.9 million in new capital. I'm not sure what Rikleen considers "significant" capital infusion, but that level of spending would be significant to most hospitals.
What Rikleen fails to note is that MetroWest, before entering its partnership with Columbia, was a hospital on the verge of defaulting on its bond debt. Without the partnership, it probably wouldn't be open, and the communities it serves would be without local healthcare.
J. Daniel Miller
Northeast division president
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.