Five months after the $60 million Fresno (Calif.) Heart Hospital opened, its CEO has been forced to resign amid mounting losses and lower-than-anticipated patient admissions.
Not-for-profit Community Medical Centers, which owns 51% of the joint-venture specialty hospital, confirmed that earlier this month that it fired J. Anthony Carr III, who held the top post at the heart hospital for more than four years during its design and construction. Carolyn Webster, who has served as Community Medical's chief nursing officer since 1999, was named interim CEO of Fresno Heart until a permanent replacement is found.
Since opening in October 2003, the 60-bed, for-profit specialty hospital has lost about $7 million and is performing far fewer heart surgeries than it needs to do each month to break even, says Community Medical spokesman John Zelezny. At the same time, three-hospital Community Medical has been working to rebound from an $8.6 million operating loss last year and the subsequent downgrade of its bond rating by three rating agencies.
"Tony did a great job of bringing the project along from its beginning stages," Zelezny says. "But now the heart hospital is at a new stage of day-to-day operations, and (Community Medical CEO J. Philip Hinton) decided it was wise to bring in a new leader at this point. It was a judgment call based on several factors that he considered."
Some of Fresno Heart's 47 physician investors decried the termination, calling it a unilateral decision that undermined the authority of the heart hospital's five-member board, which included four cardiologists and Carr. But as the majority stakeholder, Community Medical has the authority to fire a CEO without approval from the heart hospital's directors, Zelezny says. The board, however, will be required to approve Carr's successor.
Before heading up the heart hospital, Carr was vice president of customer service and team community at Community Medical's 460-bed acute-care hospital in Fresno, Community Medical Center-Fresno. Prior to that, he served for 12 years as CEO of Fresno Surgery Center, a 20-bed, short-term hospital.