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Hospital system leaders resign over controversial program

Primary care physicians and residents took their opposition to NCH Healthcare’s hospitalist program to the streets of Naples , resulting in the resignations of CEO and chief of staff.

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  • | 5:58 a.m. January 24, 2019
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  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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NAPLES — Amid a growing public controversy over a Naples Community Hospital System pilot program that incorporates a patient-centric hospitalist within three of its in-patient units, President and CEO Dr. Allen Weiss and Chief of Staff Kevin Cooper have resigned.

The NCH Healthcare board voted unanimously Jan. 23 to accept their resignations.

The program provides patients with a dedicated, specifically trained team of hospitalists, nurses and support staff to administer their care while in the hospital. The patient’s primary care physician is encouraged to partner with the team, but take a secondary role in their patients’ treatment.

But taking issue with the program was a group of residents and physicians who engaged legal representation, charging the program interfered with the relationship between independent doctors and their patients.

The controversy erupted in simultaneous competing public rallies on Tuesday, Jan. 22, one at NCH Baker Hospital by NCH employees in support of hospital leadership, and one in opposition at Cambier Park. Weiss and Cooper submitted their resignations the next day. Weiss had been CEO since 2006, and an area leader on health care issues. 

In an attempt to quell the controversy, NCH announced changes coming in the program.

“The pilot admissions program will be modified to be inclusive of all physicians on the medical staff,” NCH says in the statement. “The board shared that there have been valuable lessons learned over the past six months that include better patient satisfaction, stronger support for our nurses and overall outcomes."

In addition to the hospitalist team pilot program, Weiss had also recently come under fire after a decision to no longer admit patients from the Neighborhood Health Clinic, which provides medical care to low-income residents.

A national search to replace Weiss will begin immediately, NHC board officials say. The board has appointed COO Phil Dutcher as interim CEO. Dutcher will be assisted by a transition team that will include members of the board, current leadership and the medical community.


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