Summa Health’s board chair announced in a letter to staff that the organization had accepted the resignation of its president and chief executive officer (CEO), Dr. Thomas Malone, Cleveland.com reported.
The news came several weeks after a letter signed by more than 240 Summa physicians called for Malone’s departure, giving him a vote of no confidence.
Malone will continue to act as CEO for up to 60 days while the board searches for a successor, according to the letter.
Malone had only been in the position for about two years when the medical staff revolted. Many physicians said that they were not being consulted about how major changes at Summa would affect patient care. The final straw came when Malone replaced the emergency physician group that had been providing care in Summa Akron City Hospital’s emergency department for several decades, Summa Emergency Associates (SEA), with a new group that happened to be run by the spouse of a physician who was privy to the contract negotiations with SEA.
The board’s letter included an impressive list of accomplishments by Malone: Stable or improved bond ratings, a successful accountable care organization that saved money three years running, high quality scores and magnet recertification. So when did things start to go wrong?
Dr. Tom Mark, chair of Summa’s anesthesiology department and one of Malone’s supporters, told the Akron Beacon Journal that Summa is going through a necessary change in culture, and the medical staff is split between those who are looking forward and those who want Summa to continue operating the same way it always has.
Malone himself admitted in an interview that management should work more closely with the physicians. He also stated that to meet the cost and quality targets that come with a shift away from the fee-for-service system, Summa and its physicians need to work together – and that some doctors were unwilling to do so. His experience underscores the importance of change management in healthcare.
Last August, Texas Children’s Hospital President and CEO Mark Wallace told Healthcare Dive, “Leadership is the sum of three things: Vision plus structure plus people, with people by far being the most important ingredient in the equation,” he says. With the speed of change constantly accelerating, change management is an issue all hospital leaders should carefully consider.