Former Tennessee hospital CEO says he was asked to resign after participating in surgery

Greg Neal told the Bristol Herald Courier he was asked to resign as CEO of Bristol (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center after participating in a surgical procedure without a medical license.

Mr. Neal stepped down from the role Aug. 20. He had served as CEO of Bristol Regional since 2013 and as president of Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health's northeast market since 2018.

Mr. Neal addressed his departure in an email to the Courier in which he said Ballad Health asked him to step down after his involvement in a surgical procedure.

"I agreed with their request and believe it was the right thing to do. After having served for nearly 30 years, I believe I owe the team at Ballad Health, Bristol Regional Medical Center and our community an explanation," he wrote.

Mr. Neal told the newspaper a surgeon recently invited him to enter an operating room to observe a surgical case and support the surgical team. He accepted the invitation.

"As the case began, the surgeon asked if I would like to make the initial incision for this surgical procedure. I regret I did so," Mr. Neal wrote.

"More importantly, I apologize to the patient and their family. I apologize to the team members of Ballad Health, and to the leadership of Ballad Health," he said.

Mr. Neal went on to say the patient was not harmed, but his involvement violated Ballad Health policy, and he accepts accountability.

Ballad Health initially learned about the incident after a team member used the health system's compliance process to report the issue, according to a statement from the health system. Once the issue was reported, Ballad Health said it immediately began an investigation, which concluded with replacing the CEO. Ballad Health named Chad Couch, MD, CMO of Bristol Regional, interim CEO. The physician involved in the surgical procedure also no longer works at the hospital.  

"By accepting responsibility for his actions, and the accountability that comes with being a senior leader, Greg demonstrated the integrity that explains why he was such a successful CEO," Ballad Health said. "We are grateful for his years of service, and for recognizing the importance of our code of conduct. When it comes to an environment of patient safety, there cannot be exceptions, regardless of whether you are the chairman of the board or a newly hired team member. Our policies are serious. We all wish Greg success as he moves forward."


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