The president and chief executive officer at St. Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles, stepped down about two months after the 314-bed hospital closed its liver transplant program amid scandal. A memo issued by the hospital's parent company, Daughters of Charity Health System, Los Altos Hills, Calif., did not specify whether hospital CEO Gustavo Valdespino resigned or was fired. In a statement, the system said Valdespino's departure was "unrelated to any issues with the transplant program. In order to respect his privacy, we are not going to discuss the reasons for his departure." At deadline, Valdespino could not be reached for comment. St. Vincent Chief Operating Officer Jerry Clute will serve as interim CEO until a replacement is found. Valdespino, 46, joined St. Vincent in February 2004 after serving as vice president of operations at Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s Southern California region. He was named a Modern Healthcare Up & Comer in 1998.
St. Vincent suspended its liver transplant program in September after acknowledging that in 2003 the program allowed a Saudi Arabian national to jump ahead of others on the organ waiting list and then falsified records to cover up the misappropriation. Last month, St. Vincent announced it would not reopen the program. The hospital's kidney transplant program now faces scrutiny. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported that during the past several years, St. Vincent patients have died at a higher-than-expected rate following kidney transplants. -- by Laura B. Benko