For the third time in less than three years, Tri-City Medical Center's board is installing a new CEO at the publicly owned hospital in Oceanside, Calif.
The healthcare district board voted Thursday to appoint Chief Financial Officer Steve Dietlin as its new CEO, according to a news release. He takes over for Tim Moran, who will remain a Tri-City employee, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, although Jim Dagostino, chairman of the Tri-City board, said in the news report that Moran had one more day to consider the board's severance offer.
Dietlin has served as the Tri-City's CFO for the past three years. “Mr. Dietlin was responsible for our 2014 financial turnaround, as well as several other strategic accomplishments in all areas at the medical center,” Dagostino said in a news release. He added that Dietlin has the skills, fiscal discipline and operational mindset to accomplish the board's goals.
Tri-City has been a revolving door for CEOs. In October 2013, the board terminated CEO Larry Anderson after a whistle-blower came forward with allegations of improprieties. Anderson denied those allegations.
Officials at Tri-City did not respond to questions about why Moran was removed as CEO. As recently as last month, Moran was credited on the hospital's website for leading Tri-City's pending partnership with UC San Diego Health, which is set to be finalized in June. The partnership aims to create an integrated physician network and a health insurance plan.
Tri-City officials also did not respond to questions about how Moran's ouster will affect the pending partnership. But UCSD released a statement stating it remains committed to Tri-City, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In January, the hospital agreed to pay nearly $3.3 million to settle allegations that it violated the Stark law and the False Claims Act. Tri-City allegedly entered into prohibited financial agreements with community-based doctors and physician groups.
The decision to replace Moran was lauded by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. The healthcare workers union has targeted the salaries of public-hospital executives, and filed an initiative for the November ballot that would cap hospital executives' salaries at $250,000 a year. The terms of Moran's contract allow for a severance payment of $525,000, or one year of his most recent salary, plus health and dental coverage, for one year.
“We encourage the hospital board to take advantage of this opportunity by hiring a leader who answers first to the community, and understands patient care is the top priority,” said Angela Green, a union member and cook at Tri-City Medical Center, in a news release. “We need a CEO who will lead the board toward three critical goals: First, ensure that the hospital board make-up reflects the community it serves; second, respect the role frontline workers play in making sure patients get the best possible care; third, either support the ballot initiative to limit executive compensation at the hospital, or pass a board resolution that achieves the same goal.”
In 2012, SEIU-UHW staged a similar campaign, and won voter approval for a salary cap at El Camino Hospital, based in Mountain View, Calif. However, a judge later overturned the salary cap, saying that the measure overstepped the bounds of the initiative process.