The president and CEO of Mokena, Ill.-based Provena Health's troubled Central Illinois Region has resigned. Mark Wiener, who has held that position for two years, stepped down and will be replaced by David Bertauski, a hospital turnaround manager with St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Hunter Group, now part of Navigant Consulting, six-hospital Provena announced.
The two-hospital Central Illinois Region, which includes 120-bed Provena Covenant Medical Center in Urbana and 192-bed Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville, has been financially struggling for several years, partly because of the loss of Provena Covenant's state tax-exempt status. The hospital lost its not-for-profit status two years ago in decisions by county and state tax boards. Provena appealed and a decision from a state court judge in Springfield, Ill., is expected soon.
Wiener was hired in the midst of the tax controversy and smoothed relations with community groups who were upset at the hospital's business and charity-care policies. The hospital was suing hundreds of patients for debt collections. Last year it only sued one. Unless it prevails in court, it will continue to pay more than $1 million in property taxes annually.
"I think the timing (of the departure) is ill-advised," says James Unland, president of the healthcare financial consulting firm Healthcare Capital Group. Unland, who worked with Provena and the Urbana community groups to change those policies, says Provena lost money before hiring Wiener. "Rather than hire lawyers and develop a `bunker mentality,' he engaged the community and did some groundbreaking things. I think Provena corporate wasn't quite ready for some of the innovative things he was doing. There was a big difference in philosophy," Unland says.
Provena officials lauded Wiener's work. "Provena Health is grateful to Mark Wiener for his leadership and many contributions both within our Central Illinois region and within the Champaign and Danville communities themselves," Provena President and CEO William Foley said in a news release. Foley called Bertauski "an extraordinary leader with keen insight into the challenges we face in our Central Region."
Bertauski, a registered nurse with more than 25 years of managerial and clinical experience, served as interim chief operating officer at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and CEO of community hospitals in Texas and Pennsylvania. Bertauski is a familiar face at Provena. He worked there four years ago as part of the Hunter Group that turned around the system's financial performance.
According to the American Hospital Directory, an online source for hospital financial information, Provena Covenant Medical Center in Urbana lost $326,047 net income and $3.2 million on operations in fiscal 2003 on net patient revenues of $107.7 million. The hospital has lost millions of dollars on operations since 1999, but turned a bottom-line profit as recently as 2002 when it posted a $1.9 million profit on net patient revenue of $104.6 million. Provena United Samaritans earned $1.48 million net income on 2003 net patient revenues of $83 million. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Laggers says Wiener's departure was a mutual decision. She says that in addition to the Urbana hospital's operating losses and property tax payments, the Danville hospital faced abnormally large medical malpractice settlements that hurt the region's finances.