Nashville politicians tied hospital CEO's contract renewal to continued hospital funding, former hospital board members say

Two former members of Nashville (Tenn.) General Hospital's Authority Board say that members of the committee felt pressured by individuals on the city's Metro Council to renew the contract of hospital CEO Joseph Webb or risk losing funding, according to The Tennessean.

Jan Brandes, MD, and Harry Allen, MD, both resigned from the Hospital Authority Board in May, and said April letters from councilwomen Sharon Hurt and Tanaka Vercher led them and their fellow board members to believe that the hospital could be in danger of losing funding if it did not rehire Dr. Webb.

“We had enormous pressure,” Dr. Brandes told The Tennessean. “There was considerable pressure that our funding would not be secure if we did not approve the contract.”

Though both Ms. Hurt and Ms. Vercher acknowledge sending the letters, they dispute there was any implicit threat to the board members.

"I say what I mean, and I mean what I say,” Ms. Hurt told The Tennessean. “In this particular instance, I did not say that. It was their own interpretation, and not one that I presented to them."

In late May, Dr. Webb was offered a three-year contract with a starting salary of $350,000, with the potential for 10 percent increases in his second and third years. In protests of the new contract, five board members resigned within the span of a month.

"I respectfully request that the Hospital Authority Board exercise their leadership authority and take immediate action to renew Dr. Webb’s contract for a term of no less than three years,” Ms. Hurt's letter said, according to The Tennessean. “It would be disastrous to even consider disrupting the tremendous progress that is occurring daily at the hospital with a change in leadership.”

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