Published on June 19, 2020

Notes from tonight's LMH Health Board of Trustees meeting

Russ Johnson invited the LMH Health Board of Trustees to a special meeting this evening. The conversation, which was open to the public and attended by members of the media, centered around the planned changes to the hospital’s long-standing contractual arrangement with LEMA, the physician-services group that provides emergency medicine and hospitalist management services at LMH Health. 

The meeting was spurred by an enormous amount of feedback from providers and the community and provided an opportunity to recommit to open, transparent dialogue on this topic. Board chair Cindy Yulich opened the meeting by saying the Board of Trustees received this feedback with an open mind, as has the senior leadership team. She shared the following comments: 

Pressing pause on this process is not easy to do, especially in an industry where forward motion is so critical, and in a community hospital where every penny counts. Still, it’s the right choice.  I’ve served as a board member through Russ’ tenure, and I’ve always found him to be an incredibly strategic and thoughtful leader. His capacity and vision is unparalleled. He moves quickly, and he’s led a tremendous amount of absolutely crucial growth in an extraordinarily short amount of time. So when Russ suggests slowing down, I take note. 

Tonight provides an opportunity to recommit to open, transparent dialogue. Emotions are running high, and sleep is running low, but I know those of us here tonight care about this hospital, and we care about this community. Our physicians care, our Trustees care, and our senior leaders care. We care enough not just to slow down, but to stop right here, and contemplate our path forward.  

Russ said that his purpose was to reset the conversation, and offered the following statement: 

It’s been so visible, the passion this community has for this hospital. I’ve recognized that as a strength. The support and appreciation they have for our medical staff, which we as leadership completely share. I shared with the board earlier this week the notion of using principles to navigate difficult decisions. Over the last couple of days, I would amend those principles to include loyalty and community. The feedback we’ve received is an expression of this community’s feedback, appreciation and loyalty. I want to be sure we are giving that full measure, and full consideration. 

I participated today in a Foundation board gathering, and I was reminded again of how the trustees of that organization love LMH Health and want the best for it. I want to be sure that we do that. 

Our leadership team has had to put an enormous amount of energy and focus on the financial challenges both right here in front of us and those we see on the horizon. I think that’s an important matter, one that we keep in balance. My recommendation from earlier this week was trying to do that. What I’ve witnessed over the last few days is that this decision has wounded some very important relationships in unintended ways. That’s not who I am, and that’s not how I want to lead. That’s not how we want to be as an organization. 

That’s part of the reason it’s important to pause. To listen and think and move in a direction that is healing. My experience as a leader is that overcoming adversity and difference and hardship is very possible, and can be very powerful. I think that’s called for here. 

We need to communicate clearly, listen carefully and engage further. Let’s pause this implementation. Let’s connect with our medical staff with a renewed commitment. Let’s continue to seek common ground in support of our physicians and our local partners, with our very best efforts. I want there to be a solution we can all support – one that recognizes the principles and challenges that are upon us, and that are upon our colleagues. The community clearly wants that, and we are a community hospital and we will remain a community hospital. 

As we seek to reconnect, I will continue to do my best to value our principles and move this hospital forward in a way that everyone—including our community and our providers—feel proud of. 

Following discussion, Russ sought and received the board’s support to pause Emergency Department and Hospitalist contracting activity in order to allow for more time to meet with the LMH Health medical staff, to revisit the proposal made by LEMA, and to further define the contract review process. 

We will keep you apprised as these conversations continue.


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Notes from tonight's LMH Health Board of Trustees meeting