The board of 10-hospital Baptist Health System, Birmingham, Ala., called off a proposed sale to for-profit Triad Health Systems, fired the CEO who helped plan the deal and vowed to continue as a locally controlled, faith-based hospital system. The 21-member board executed its abrupt reversal Saturday, about three weeks after it decided to pursue a deal with Triad. The board also fired Dennis Hall, the system's president and CEO for the past nine years, and announced the resignation of board Chairman Robert Keith Jr. and four other trustees. Dramatizing the turnaround, trustees expressed confidence that the system, which Hall said was struggling to cover its bills, is healthy enough to expand in the coming years. "The majority of the board believes we have a vibrant system that can -- and will -- continue to prosper as a faith-based, not-for-profit organization," board member Gary Furr said. At deadline, Hall was unavailable for comment.
Keith was replaced by Michael Drummond, a vascular surgeon at 347-bed Princeton Baptist Medical Center, Birmingham. William Hynson, Baptist's executive vice president of hospital operations, was named senior manager while the board conducts a national search for a new CEO. Baptist's exploration of a possible sale or partnership triggered protests from many employees, including about 200 physicians, who earlier this year demanded Hall's ouster. -- by Michael Romano