Board backs CEO despite 'no confidence' from entire Maine system

The Lewiston-based Central Maine Healthcare board of trustees affirmed its support in CEO Jeff Brickman despite the votes of no confidence he received from all three of the system's hospitals, according to an Aug. 1 letter from the board to the entire staff obtained by Becker's Hospital Review.

Staff at CHMC's three hospitals — Lewiston-based Central Maine Medical Center, Rumford (Maine) Hospital and Bridgton (Maine) Hospital — each voted no confidence in Mr. Brickman during several votes held throughout July.

Staff told the Portland Press Herald the votes were symbolic and meant to convey their dissatisfaction with Mr. Brickman to CHMC's board of directors. Staff members said they recognize the need for change and to conserve funds, but take issue with Mr. Brickman's management style, which some employees believe to be too harsh. They also voiced concerns about the system's ongoing fiscal issues and service cuts.

In the Aug. 1 letter to employees, CMHC Board Chairwoman Deborah Avasthi said the board has "heard the frustrations and concerns voiced by [the system's] medical staff." She stated that during the board's July 31 meeting, officials adopted a plan to address those concerns, part of which involves affirming their support for Mr. Brickman.

"We voted to affirm our support of Jeff Brickman as CEO, and of the strategic vision and plan that he and the leadership team have put in place to guide the future of CMH," she said. "Jeff Brickman shares our concerns about healing the institution and has committed to doing his best to leading an effort to heal."

The second part of the plan involves providing medical staff with an increased role in governance. The chiefs of staff of each hospital will serve as ex-officio directors on CMHC's board, and board officials will work to add two more physicians for a total of three to serve as directors. Officials will also create a joint council with representation from the medical staffs of each hospital, board officials and CMHC senior leadership to improve communication between the groups.

Ms. Avasthi said the board will also continue to utilize an independent consulting physician to monitor and update the board with physician feedback.

"It is our responsibility as board members to act in the best long-term interests of CMH including ensuring that it remains financially viable. We have spent the last several weeks soliciting and receiving feedback from the medical staff as well as administrative staff and caregivers. … We recognize that this has been a tumultuous time. We know that these concerns are voiced out of dedication to your work, your patients and your hospital," she said. "We must adapt to ensure the long term viability of the system and that means change — sometimes difficult change."

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