Fletcher Allen trustees will step down

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VPR’s John Dillon reported live from Fletcher Allen hospital, where Thursday evening the chair of the hospital’s board announced that most of the trustees will step down.

(Neal Charnoff) Earlier this evening, the chairwoman of the Fletcher Allen Board, Louise McCarren, held a press conference to announce new governing policies at Fletcher Allen and to respond to the governor.

VPR’s John Dillon has been at that press conference and joins us now. John Dillon, Louise McCarren had a major announcement to make this afternoon. What did she say?

(Dillon) “Well, Neal, she said that eight board members are resigning from the Fletcher Allen board. These are the people who were there during the time when the Fletcher Allen project ballooned. Remaining on the board will be the six people who were appointed in January and Louise herself. And Dr. Joe Warshaw, who is dean of the College of Medicine. So, pretty much a complete housecleaning of the people who were there during the scandal.”

(Charnoff) John, did this come as a surprise or was it expected? And what is the effect of this announcement?

(Dillon) “It came as quite a bit of a surprise to the reporters here. We were expecting perhaps that she would say, ‘No, we appreciate the governor’s advice, but this is what we need to do to go forward.’ She says that these board members made their decisions on an individual basis; that they needed to do this, they decided to this based on their commitment to the organization. And taking that at its face, the effect is that it pretty much puts the hospital on a new footing, as far as its trustees goes. There’ll be different people there, different people that weren’t there when the project got out of control. And as far as the timing of this thing, these people don’t leave right away. They leave when their replacements are found. So, there’s some continuity between this board and the new one, including Louise herself.

(Charnoff) Does this come close to satisfying what the governor has asked for?

(Dillon) Well it’s interesting, she was asked that of course. And she says they didn’t do this at the governor’s request. She said it was an individual decision by each of the board members to step down. And the governor today said that Louise McCarren should go – the chairwoman should go. So I guess in that respect, it doesn’t satisfy. But I think what it does do is put a completely new crew at the top, if you count the six new people who were appointed in January. And he’s called for a complete change in governance, so it 99% there. And she wants to be there, she says, to provide continuity, so the institutional memory – the hands on oversight of the institution. She says she’ll leave as soon as a new CEO is hired. So I think it goes pretty close to what the governor wanted.

(Charnoff) John, does this begin to put the Fletcher Allen scandal to rest?

(Dillon) Obviously. These people were there, these eight board members were there when the project grew and grew and grew – more than doubled in size. They were there when former CEO William Boettcher made the decision to dodge state oversight. They didn’t exercise control over him, and now they’re gone – they will be leaving. And it answers some of the call that people like Bernie Sanders have made to completely change the governance of the place. So it goes a long way to, I think, restoring some public trust in the institution.

(Charnoff) VPR’s John Dillon, live at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

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