* Richard Peterson narrowly averted being ousted as president and CEO of Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, after he survived a physician no-confidence vote by 17 ballots out of 643 that were cast. Doctors had complained that Peterson ignored them when making strategic decisions that threatened to undermine physicians' private practices. In particular, neurosurgeons had objected to Swedish's decision in April to hire in-house doctors to staff its own neurosurgical specialty center. Peterson is credited with leading Swedish through an unprecedented growth phase since taking charge in 1995.
"What I'm hearing from physicians is we have not done a very good job at involving them in the business decisions Swedish has made-early enough and giving them an opportunity for input," Peterson told the Seattle Times. He said the medical center and physicians are "competing at the same time we need to be partners."
* Dennis Miller, president and CEO of Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, N.J.--the hospital where serial killer Charles Cullen said he murdered 13 patients and tried to kill two others--has taken a leave of absence with no plans to return, officials say. Miller, 54, who held the position for five years, cited personal reasons for his departure. Kenneth Bateman, 45, Somerset's CFO and senior vice president of finance, was named acting president. Cullen, who confessed to killing dozens of patients at hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during his 16-year career as a nurse, became a suspect only after two suspicious patient deaths at Somerset were reported to investigators in October 2003.
Among the hospital's other problems were the state of New Jersey fining it $1 million for closing its psychiatric ward, federal authorities overturning a union vote because of hospital improprieties and allegations against Miller of sexual harassment. The hospital has settled lawsuits filed by an employee who claimed to have been harassed by Miller and another who had urged the woman to come forward and alleged she was fired for doing so.
* Two top executives resigned from HealthSouth Corp., Birmingham, Ala.--Larry Taylor, 46, president of the company's surgery division, and Patrick Foster, 58, president of inpatient services. HealthSouth says the men were not dismissed but were leaving to pursue other opportunities.
The surgery and inpatient divisions are HealthSouth's largest and are projected to generate almost all of the company's pre-restructuring profit of $650 million for 2004. In a news release, HealthSouth CEO Jay Grinney said he was happy with both divisions' performance.