Leaving behind two failed joint ventures and a financially strained hospital, the president and chief executive officer of St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville resigned abruptly last week.
John Tighe, 49, did not give a reason for his departure, effective Feb. 1. He announced his resignation in a press release and declined requests for an interview. The hospital said it was searching for a replacement for Tighe and expects to name one by February.
When he took the reins of the 516-bed hospital in 1994, Tighe became the first layperson to lead St. Thomas, part of Daughters of Charity National Health System.
St. Thomas boasted a profit of $53 million in 1997, but hospital spokesman Mark Taylor said he expects 1998's surplus to total about half that amount.
"Our average Medicare reimbursement has dropped $700 per patient, which for us is $25 million total," Taylor said.
St. Thomas has laid off 50 administrative and managerial workers as part of its 30-month plan to trim its budget by $43 million.
The hospital has not decided whether it will sell any of its nearly 100 physician practices, Taylor said.
The financial straits come nine months after St. Thomas tried unsuccessfully to create a joint operating company with Nashville rival 545-bed Baptist Hospital.
At the time the deal was announced, Tighe stressed the importance of affiliating with another local healthcare powerhouse to create cost savings and increase patient access.
Similar talks with 581-bed Vanderbilt University Hospital, also in Nashville, met the same fate in 1996, when both hospitals scrapped the deal.
Tighe is the third hospital CEO in Nashville to leave his post within the last six months.
Vanderbilt's executive director and CEO, Marsha Casey, resigned earlier this month, effective Feb. 1. Casey, who has held her Vanderbilt post since September 1996, will move to Indianapolis and take the president's job at St. Vincent Hospitals and Health Services.
In fiscal 1998, Vanderbilt's hospital and clinic earned $17.2 million on $423.8 million in revenues, for a profit margin of 4%.
Two months after talks with St. Thomas collapsed, C. David Stringfield, then-president and CEO at Baptist, said he was stepping down after 16 years at the hospital's helm. Stringfield later was named chairman and senior vice president, only to be ousted by the board in November (Nov. 30, 1998, p. 14).
Last month, Moody's Investors Service put Baptist on its watch list for a possible downgrade, citing a $73 million operational loss (Dec. 14, 1998, p. 4).