Turnover makes its way to boards

The end of the year brought an exodus of board members from several hospitals. While each situation involves varying factors, they all come at a time when governing bodies are increasingly feeling burnout and the strain involved in their responsibilities.

One recent departure announcement came from Memorial Hospital of Texas County in Guymon, Okla., where three board members departed, and the CEO, William Ermann, plans to retire at the end of March. The board members — Jack Strain, board chair; John Garrison, board vice chair; and Robert Carter, finance committee chair — resigned after a challenging period that included a failed board vote to approve critical short-term funding, the hospital said in a Jan. 4 news release. Memorial Hospital is searching for Mr. Ermann's successor as well as replacements for the three board members.

Board departures have occurred amid new decisions affecting their roles, too. Two Hennepin (Minn.) Healthcare board members recently resigned after an oversight change was announced. The change specifically involved county commissioners placing more oversight on the health system's budget and management decisions, according to a Jan. 9 report from the StarTribune. Steve Thompson, Hennepin Healthcare's incoming board chair, and Diana Vance-Bryan, past chair, resigned Dec. 15 following the announcement.

Joel Cleary, MD, announced his own reasons when he resigned from the board of trustees for Grangeville, Idaho-based Syringa Hospital & Clinics. In an email to the Idaho County Free Press, Dr. Cleary wrote that he resigned, effective Dec. 31, 2023, "due to continued conflicts with other board members and disagreement on recent, past and upcoming policy decisions." 

Board chair Laura Smith shared a statement with Becker's, saying that "although Joel only served on our board for seven months, his background, knowledge and experience will be missed. Per Idaho code, the remaining elected board members will be appointing a trustee to fill his vacancy until the next hospital district election in May of 2025."

In a recent Fortune report, experts advised that board leaders should check in with members to ensure they are up to the increased responsibilities of the job.

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