Tennessee hospital physicians support board following 'lost confidence' notice from city council

A group of physicians at Maryville, Tenn.-based Blount Memorial Hospital has responded to a notice of lost confidence sent from the city council to two hospital board members, The Daily Times reported Sept. 25.

The city council notified the two Maryville representatives on the board — David Pesterfield and David Cockrill — that they would not be reappointed due to concerns raised about the process for the hospital's new CEO. Harold Naramore, MD,was tapped to helm Blount Memorial Hospital in June after serving as the hospital's chief medical officer for more than 12 years. He succeeded Don Heinemann, who decided to retire. Local mayors questioned the CEO selection process, including whether the organization's by-laws were followed. The hospital has defended the process.

The letter from the city council, sent earlier in September, recounted the concerns raised about the selection process, thanked Mr. Pesterfield and Mr. Cockrill for their service as board members, and notified the board members they would not be reappointed once their terms end, according to The Daily Times. Mr. Pesterfield and Mr. Cockrill were both initially appointed to the board in 2008 by the city of Maryville. Board members serve three-year renewable terms.

A group of 56 physicians at the hospital responded Sept. 22 by expressing disappointment in Maryville's treatment of Mr. Pesterfield and Mr. Cockrill and showing support for the board's decisions, The Daily Times reported.

"In exchange for their dedicated efforts, the acknowledgement they have received from you is your 'lost confidence,'" the letter states, according to the newspaper.

According to The Daily Times, the letter from physicians also compliments Mr. Cockrill, Mr. Pesterfield and other board members who supported allowing hospital staff to provide COVID-19-related testing and treatment therapy to the community during the pandemic, despite the cost.

A source close to the hospital told the newspaper employees felt pressured to put their name on the letter.

Blount Memorial Hospital Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing Jennie Bounds told the newspaper neither the hospital nor board wrote or shared the letter.

"If employees, physicians or volunteers are communicating their concerns as individuals, they have the right to do so," she said, according to The Daily Times.

To read the full report, click here.  

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