Christine McEntee, once the top lieutenant to American Hospital Association President Richard Davidson, will leave the organization as the Chicago-based AHA's balance of power continues a shift to Washington.
After 11 years with the AHA, the 41-year-old McEntee said she will likely leave her post as executive vice president in charge of the association's Chicago office sometime after the AHA's annual meeting in January.
The move will leave the Chicago headquarters with just two of the AHA's seven top managers. Half the full-time-equivalent jobs in Chicago have been eliminated during McEntee's leadership there, which began in July 1994.
It remains unclear who will be the top executive in Chicago or if McEntee will be replaced.
"The title of executive vice president may not be needed," said Richard Wade, the AHA's senior vice president for communications.
McEntee said she still wants to complete several tasks, including restructuring the AHA's 14 personal membership groups. The groups offer AHA membership to individuals in specialized healthcare areas, such as marketing and food services. There are about 35,000 members in the PMGs.
The PMGs have been a sore spot during Davidson's six-year tenure. Financially successful PMGs have wanted to spin off from the AHA, which covets them as revenue generators. Financially unsuccessful PMGs don't want to leave the shelter of the AHA, which sees those groups as a drain on precious dollars.
Collectively, the PMGs have lost more than $400,000 in each of the past two years, the AHA's financial records show. Total PMG revenues as of the end of 1996 were about $15 million, McEntee said.
In July, one PMG, the American Academy of Hospital Attorneys, left the AHA to merge with the National Health Lawyers Association. In 1993, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society broke away from the AHA and became an independent organization.
"We will be defining a whole new relationship and operating strategy with our personal membership organizations, and that will define a new partnership between PMGs and our institutional members," McEntee said.
Some groups are likely to be consolidated or eliminated, she said. The AHA wouldn't disclose which PMGs may be axed.
"There are opportunities to create new ones, and that's under discussion," she said. "There are a lot of new professions being created as new positions in healthcare are created."
McEntee said the decision to leave was her own. It comes as her role in the organization has diminished. McEntee was replaced as the AHA's second-in-command in April by Jonathan Lord, M.D., former AHA senior adviser for clinical affairs who became the AHA's chief operating officer, based in Washington.
Lord also assumed the responsibilities of Paul Boyke, who was the AHA's senior vice president for finance and administration. In April, Boyke was demoted to president of AHA Services. Boyke stepped down from that position in July.
McEntee came to the AHA's Chicago office as executive vice president in July 1994 after serving in Washington as president and deputy director for federal relations during her first eight years at the association.
The AHA's 1994 tax return said the association paid McEntee more than $200,000 to relocate to Chicago.
McEntee replaced George Belsey, who resigned as executive vice president in March 1994 after serving in the post for just two years.
McEntee said she doesn't have a new job lined up. She is considering a career in consulting or another position where she can affect healthcare delivery so it is "working as a system, as opposed to a bunch of fragmented parts."
McEntee said she accomplished many goals while in Chicago, including creating the association's Center for Health Care Leadership, which provides educational services to AHA member hospitals and their executives.
During her tenure, she was asked by AHA brass to carry out several unpopular tasks.
Between July 1994 and July of this year, the number of full-time-equivalent employees at the AHA's Chicago headquarters dropped 56% to 257 from 580.
McEntee also presided over the elimination of the Congress of Hospital Trustees, an affiliate of the AHA with 100 hospital trustee members. The group's functions were incorporated into other AHA activities.
McEntee led the attempted elimination of the AHA library. Backlash from the health services research community forced the AHA to drop the plans, although the library is largely closed to the public.
McEntee's resignation was announced in a Sept. 12 internal memo from Davidson to AHA staffers.
In the memo, Davidson said, "When I asked Chris to take on the responsibility of executive vice president in Chicago, I outlined three priorities: reconfigure and consolidate our member services; transform our activities in the area of healthcare governance; and re-invent our relationship with our personal membership groups. She has accomplished each of these tasks and more."
McEntee's compensation was $260,139 in 1996. That was up 13% from $230,153 in 1995.
Meanwhile, the AHA has hired Korn/Ferry International, an executive search firm, to help the association find a new vice president for personal membership groups. That position has been vacant since Harry Bryan resigned last October as vice president of the AHA's PMG division.
At that point, the AHA hired the Chicago-based consulting firm Smith, Bucklin and Associates to review the AHA's PMGs and recommend a restructuring plan to the association. The original assignment called on a report to be generated within 45 days.
McEntee said the report pointed out a "variety of operational and leadership issues and gave us recommendations to consider." Those recommendations are being implemented and will include the PMG consolidations, she said.
Smith, Bucklin is still on the job, with one consultant filling the role left by Bryan.
A new vice president-level position will be created to oversee the PMGs, McEntee said.