'Corporate leadership must go. All of them': Physician urges Beaumont to oust top execs

Robert Safian, MD, a cardiologist at Southfield, Mich.-based Beaumont Health and a professor at Oakland University Beaumont School of Medicine, has sent a letter to the health system's board of trustees urging them to oust Beaumont's top executives. 

Dr. Safian, who came to Beaumont in 1991, began his letter by praising past and current physician leaders at the health system. The letter, obtained by Deadline Detroit, goes on to say that corporate leadership "has created a culture of fear and intimidation" over the last five to seven years.

"This toxic culture has been progressively worsening over the last few years, yet the turmoil has peaked in the last few months as a result of two separate events: the proposed sale of Beaumont to Advocate Aurora and a looming crisis in the Department of Anesthesia, that is now spreading to other departments," Dr. Safian wrote in his letter. "As a result of the toxic culture, in 2020 alone, over 100 physician-leaders at Royal Oak will have relocated outside southeastern Michigan, provided verbal or written intentions to leave Beaumont, or will remain on staff but move substantial portions of their practices to other local institutions."

In June, Beaumont announced that it hired NorthStar Anesthesia to provide anesthesia and pain services at the system's Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak and Troy, Mich., campuses beginning Jan. 1, 2021. 

Dr. Safian described the "crisis" in the anesthesia department as one "created by corporate leadership in a gamble to prioritize profit over patients." He said the decision will result in lower quality specialty anesthesiology services next year and "has upset the personal and professional careers of hundreds of Beaumont anesthesiologists and CRNAs." 

Dr. Safian ended his letter with a call to action: "corporate leadership must go. All of them." 

In a Nov. 16 statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Beaumont said it has received Dr. Safian's letter and is planning a time to discuss his concerns. The system also noted there are several errors in the letter. 

"This has been a very challenging year for many reasons," Beaumont said. "We are proud of our physicians, nurses and staff that have continued to provide extraordinary care, every day at Beaumont throughout this pandemic. We also deeply value the contributions that donors provide to Beaumont Health."

In October, Beaumont and Advocate Aurora Health, which has dual headquarters in Downers Grove, Ill., and Milwaukee, called off plans to merge. The merger plan faced criticism from some Beaumont physicians, nurses and donors. The deal was canceled after a survey, completed by 1,500 of the system's 5,000 physicians, revealed a lack of confidence in Beaumont's leadership and concerns about its proposed merger with Advocate Aurora.

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