Tennessee county officials vote to fire Blount Memorial Hospital board members

In an often heated meeting lasting almost three hours, Eastern Tennessee's Blount County board of commissioners on Nov. 29 voted to remove the entire board of the troubled Blount Memorial Hospital.

The move also includes the immediate removal of three of the board members appointed by Blount County itself — Robert Redwine, Denny Mayes and Scott Powell — as directors of the Maryville-based hospital. 

However, a second proposal to change the charter setup of the hospital organization failed to pass, leaving the move to fire the entire board legally hanging. Blount County commissioners then voted to adjourn the meeting without choosing four new nominated hospital board members.

The special meeting was organized following a call from Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell for the board members' removal due to financial mismanagement related to the hospital. 

Hospital CEO Harold Naramore said during the meeting that the group was clearly in "financial distress." The hospital's CFO, Jonathan Smith, estimated losses of up to $69 million in fiscal year 2022, turning current performance into a record negative from a record positive in 2021, he said during the meeting.

Much of the recent controversy centers around the proposed sale of the hospital's Springbrook location in Alcoa for $22.25 million. That deal has cooled because of concerns from the planned buyer, Nashville-based Montecito Medical, about its national reputation, Mr. Naramore said at the meeting.

The vote to fire the board came despite overwhelming requests both from medical staff at the hospital and concerned community members to vote against all the resolutions.

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