Nurses union calls for CHS chief's ouster; health system affirms his board support

The largest union of registered nurses in the U.S. is calling on Wayne T. Smith, chairman of the board and CEO of Community Health Systems, to step down, but the hospital operator is calling the union's move a publicity stunt.

National Nurses United is calling for Smith's resignation from the Franklin, Tenn.-based for-profit system in a report scheduled to be released May 14. The report accuses Mr. Smith of mismanaging CHS.

"Based on a review of Smith's tenure as CEO, it appears that his primary goal has been to enrich himself at the expense of patients and the corporation's assets," National Nurses United President Zenei Cortez, RN, said in a news release. "The CHS board must put an end to Smith's flagrant mismanagement."

Union officials said the report documents service reductions under Mr. Smith's leadership, particularly in remote areas, as well as closures of CHS hospitals between 2014 and 2018 in Tennessee. Prices at CHS hospitals and Mr. Smith's compensation are included in the report as well.

The union's release of the report is scheduled to coincide with the annual CHS stockholder meeting May 14.

In an emailed statement, CHS told Becker's that the union, which represents only 225 of the more than 82,000 employees working across CHS, has "a long record of staging publicity stunts against healthcare providers across the country, rather than focusing on issues that matter most to its members."

The statement added that CHS "continues to make progress on strategic initiatives that are strengthening our organization for the future, including a divestiture program to help reduce debt."

"Our largest shareholder has repeatedly expressed support for the company and its management team," CHS said.  


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