Carolyn Lewis' role as incoming chair of the American Hospital Association board is secure, despite the financial struggles of the hospital system she serves as a trustee.
Although the Greater Southeast Healthcare System is selling its flagship 262-bed hospital in the District of Columbia, the system's board remains intact because it still must oversee other holdings, including a 37-bed hospital in Fort Washington, Md., and two nursing homes.
Lewis, 61, retains her eligibility to serve as AHA board chairwoman as long as she is affiliated with an AHA member organization, said Richard Wade, the AHA's senior adviser for communications.
Lewis becomes the AHA chairwoman in January. She will be the first black and the first hospital trustee to assume the coveted post.
Lewis said what happened at Greater Southeast will make her a stronger AHA board chairwoman.
"I am so convinced of that," she said. "I feel it has strengthened my ability to communicate and to give something of real substance."
However, if the remaining Greater Southeast facilities are sold and the system board ceases to exist, "then she's at another crossroad," Wade said.
Should that happen, Lewis said, she has options to serve on other boards, which would maintain her eligibility for leadership within the AHA.