Washington hospital's interim CEO defends record amid scrutiny

Michael Layfield, who was appointed interim CEO of Coupeville, Wash.-based WhidbeyHealth in late February, is trying to set the record straight on his career. 

In a letter to the editor of the South Whidbey Record, Mr. Layfield claims a recent article in the Whidbey News-Times doesn't paint an accurate picture of his tenure in the healthcare industry. 

"Of the 18 hospitals I have been associated with during my career, the Whidbey News-Times focused on two where they stated there were controverserives and financial woes," Mr. Layfield wrote in the letter. 

Mr. Layfield provided his side of the story regarding the two hospitals, one in Arkansas and one in Tennessee, that the Whidbey News-Times article focused on. 

Mr. Layfield was the CEO of Drew Memorial Hospital in Monticello, Ark., from October 2008 to November 2013. He said he led a successful turnaround of the hospital before resigning. 

"Without violating the [nondisclosure] agreement, I can say that the medical staff and I disagreed on who would be responsible for certain areas of the hospital. After a series of discussions and finding no middle ground or compromise, I resigned rather than sacrificing my principles and creating further distractions for the hospital," Mr. Layfield wrote. "When I left the hospital was in excellent financial condition and a leader in quality care with a bright future." 

Mr. Layfield was also the CEO of a hospital in Tennessee from April 2016 to March 2019. In 2018, two years after stepping into the role, the hospital was acquired by a private company that drained the hospital's cash balances and grants, Mr. Layfield said. 

"When payroll and accounts payable could not be met, I went without being paid so that the line employees could be paid," Mr. Layfield said. "I was never paid for the last three months I worked there. It was not about the money. It was about saving the hospital, saving jobs, and providing health care services for the community."

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