Get real" indeed. Apart from the fact that this "Commentary" ("Get real-Professional governing boards must happen if hospitals and systems are to survive," Oct. 11, p. 32) is a blatant advertisement for two consultants, the ideas expressed do not connect to the reality of today's not-for-profit hospitals. The last thing hospitals need is to spend their fast-dwindling reserves on "retained searches" for paid directors. And, by the way, trustees don't "expertly steer their organizations." That's what chief executive officers do. Once and for all, hospitals aren't businesses "like their Wall Street counterparts."
In large part hospitals are bleeding red ink today because they bought into the notion that they could control their own destiny through "competition," "vertical and horizontal integration" and "system building." As we see today, hospitals' largest customer (the federal government) can pay whatever it feels like and can send you to jail if it doesn't like the way you do accounting; and you have no direct control over physicians, who constitute the one group that can make or break you. Find that setup on Wall Street.
Hospitals can survive quite well without paid trustees, and of course they will. What is not clear is whether they can survive more consulting advice.
Plemmons Associates executive search firm