Hospital board plans to choose leader in March

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Associated Press

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Members of Erlanger Hospital's board of trustees say the Chattanooga public health system will remain on track to name a new CEO in March, despite a request by state lawmakers to delay the decision.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/1307h4q ) reported board members might have violated the state Open Meetings Act by gathering last month to discuss a legislator's letter without advertising the meeting.

The three finalists for the post are Rear. Adm. Donald R. Gintzig, a senior health care executive for the U.S. Navy; Ken D. Haynes:, former CEO of St. Joseph Health System in central and eastern Kentucky; and Kevin M. Spiegel, who oversees Methodist University Hospital in Memphis and also is an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center College of Medicine.

Trustees met Dec. 27 to discuss a letter from House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga. The newspaper said the meeting was not scheduled and no notice of it was given.

Frank Gibson, public policy director for the Tennessee Press Association, said state law allows public bodies to hold closed meetings under very limited circumstances.

"I know of no exemption to the Sunshine Law that allows them to meet to discuss something like a letter from the Legislature," Gibson said Wednesday. "The question is, what public notice did they give and what else did they discuss in the meeting?"

Erlanger spokeswoman Pat Charles told the newspaper in an email, "Regarding your question about the Dec. 27 meeting, Board Chairman Ron Loving stated that 'no action was taken at that meeting that would require it being open to the public.'"

Meanwhile, McCormick said Wednesday he spoke with Loving and search committee chairwoman Dr. Phyllis Miller and is satisfied with how the hiring process is unfolding.

"They told me their normal process will take them past January 31 anyway," McCormick said. "I'm fine with that — my concern was they were going to go ahead and name somebody this week. They assured me they weren't going to."

McCormick's letter of Dec. 19 said the local legislative delegation plans to revise the 1976 legislation that set up the hospital authority that operates Erlanger Health System.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com

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