The Summa Health System board of directors is taking a series of steps that give it more direct oversight of administrative moves following strong opposition to Summa's decision to replace its emergency department staff.
The plan includes hiring an "executive coach" who will report directly to the board, work with leadership and guide the establishment of a culture "that values employee and physician engagement," according to a Jan. 15 letter from the board.
The board also will create an advisory medical staff panel, take on direct oversight for all physician contracts for the rest of 2017 and revise its contract renewal process "to avoid a repeat of the recent emergency department transition."
Summa brought in new ED physicians after contract negotiations broke down with Summa Emergency Associates, the independent physician group that had staffed the system's EDs for decades. Hundreds of physicians voted no-confidence in Dr. Thomas Malone, Summa president and CEO.
The letter didn't mention Malone by name. According to the letter, the executive coach will work with all members of the Summa Health executive leadership team.
"All of these steps are intended to provide the foundation for the Summa Health leadership team to build a culture of engagement and open communication," the letter stated. "Our Board will be monitoring this situation closely."
After listing Summa's recent accomplishments (including the performance of its insurance SummaCare, its accountable care organization and a $350 million facilities plan), the board recognized the "difficult headwinds" it has faced recently.
"As pleased as we are by these accomplishments, recent events and the divisions that they have revealed are very troubling to us," the letter stated.
The board will work with medical leadership to get nominations for a medical staff panel of three to seven physicians, both independent and employed, who will report directly to the board and advise it on medical staff issues, according to the letter.
The board plans to revise its contract renewal process "in accordance with best in class standards," and will have direct oversight for all physician contracts for the remainder of the year.
"No physician contract will be terminated without the full approval of the Board," according to the letter.
The board also committed to filling two physician vacancies by the end of February.
"As caretakers of Summa Health, it is our responsibility to provide the tools for management to develop a way forward that ensures we do not repeat the mistakes of the past," the letter stated. "It is also our responsibility to ensure that our community is served by a high-quality healthcare organization that not only improves the health and wellness of our region, but also remains a pillar of strength that helps drive Akron forward. We take each of these responsibilities seriously and are committed to ensuring the execution of our vision for Summa Health."
"Summa board to have more direct oversight of administrative moves" originally appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business.