The Search for a Memorial CEO Continues

Friends & Neighbors
The Sun Sentinel has published an opinion/editorial regarding the recruitment and candidate interviews by the Board of Commissions of the South Broward Hospital District for a new CEO for the Memorial Healthcare System.  The interviews of the remaining four internal and four external candidates for chief executive officer begins today. Meeting times and day are today Friday 9:00 am 5:00 PM Saturday 9:00 am 5:00 pm.
I trust you'll find the candidates in the editorial interesting and I encourage you to read the article and voice your opinion in the comments. I look forward to seeing you at theses very important meetings. 

Board turmoil causing harm to Memorial

Keeping you informed,
Commissioner Keith London
Board turmoil causing harm to Memorial

After watching the board of the South Broward Hospital District in action, it comes as no surprise to learn that two external CEO applicants have dropped out, one without comment, the other citing the turmoil engulfing the public hospital system.

Today, the board that oversees Memorial Healthcare System will begin interviewing the remaining four internal and four external candidates for chief executive officer.

As to why he withdrew, David Bradley, a regional president of Sutter Health in Northern California, said: "It appears the political turmoil will be a significant distraction to the organization's mission of delivering safe, quality care for patients."

Let that sink in. The turmoil on Memorial's board could be "a significant distraction" to delivering safe, quality patient care.


It never should have come to this.

Memorial's longtime CEO, Frank Sacco, should be handing over the reins on a high note. Except for a dysfunctional board, he is leaving this taxpayer-supported system in great shape. It's making money, cutting taxes, scoring high quality marks and expanding services to our community.

But as he prepares to retire at the end of February, records show one board member, Laura Raybin Miller, is riding him hard.

Miller is demanding to see all the emails Sacco sends his management team. She's reaching over him to give directions to staffers. She's ordered exhaustive reviews of hospital departments. She's asking to see people's employment contracts. She's accused the general counsel of having a "conflict of interest" for representing the board and the administration. She approached an expensive search firm before the board even agreed on the process. She regularly sends emails to all board members, despite regular admonitions from legal counsel about potential Sunshine Law implications.

Most surprisingly, Miller also met with the leader of the North Broward Hospital District, who's at odds with Memorial. A couple of weeks ago, she told us she met with Dr. Nabil El Sinadi because "I need a sounding board from time to time."

This week, before her colleagues had a chance to weigh in, Miller ordered a contract be drawn up for Aurelio Fernandez, whom the board chose to be interim CEO after Sacco leaves. Fernandez, the chief operating officer of Memorial, also is an internal candidate for the full-time job. In the interim, Miller wants his pay increased from $550,000 to $740,000.

Did Miller not see the letter from Gov. Rick Scott that asked board members, during this process, to focus on patient outcomes and reducing costs for taxpayers?

Given Memorial's success, it's hard to know what's driving Miller, who couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. In an earlier interview, she told us the board has a philosophical divide about how to govern, that some members want more input on more things.

However, multiple sources cite a different motivation. In her 16 years on the board, Miller has never been chosen chairman — and for that, she blames Sacco.

So now, on the occasion of his retirement, Miller appears to want to wrestle power away from the CEO's office and ensconce it firmly on the board. And that's a problem, for as this community knows from the history of the North Broward Hospital District, bad things happen when board members use their power to influence day-to-day operations.

Plus, what quality CEO wants to show his board all the emails he writes to his management team?

When the search for his replacement began, Sacco told his board members the process would be a two-way street. Not only would they be evaluating candidates, the candidates would be evaluating them.

That two candidates have backed out is important feedback.

So today, as Memorial's board meets to begin interviewing candidates, its members need to address the disruption Miller is creating. For starters, the board should pass a policy that prohibits board members from emailing the group, and sanction any violators.

To the candidates, we again say, this is a great job, with great employees. And the cloud hanging over this high-performing health care system will pass.

This community will stand for nothing less.