Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chief Executive Resigns from St. Anthony's

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chief Executive Resigns from St. Anthony's

Article excerpt

Jim Gardner, who in his first year as CEO engineered a sweeping reorganization of St. Anthony's Medical Center, has resigned after only 13 months on the job.

The independent community hospital's board of directors announced Friday afternoon that the chief executive had tendered his resignation, effective immediately.

No reasons were disclosed for Gardner's sudden departure. He declined to comment.

David Sindelar, the hospital's chairman of the board, said that Gardner left for personal reasons, but he would not elaborate. He said there were no apparent disagreements between Gardner and the board about the hospital's finances, management or strategic direction.

"We thought he was doing a good job and we're sorry to see him go," said Sindelar, sounding subdued. "I hate to see him go, and when we talked about it, it was a surprise."

Under his leadership, Gardner recruited a senior leadership team, completed a bond refinancing and initiated a performance improvement project.

Sindelar said the board will begin a search for a new CEO immediately. In the interim, Dr. David Morton, the hospital's chief medical officer, will perform Gardner's duties.

St. Anthony's the third-largest hospital in the St. Louis area has struggled in recent years. The south St. Louis County-based hospital's number of patients has declined, and its surgical center is underutilized. Still, the hospital has a healthy endowment of more than $200 million and only about $140 million in bond debt.

In October, Gardner laid off 176 employees at the hospital. In December and January 2012, the hospital laid off about 85 employees before Gardner became CEO.

Gardner, who hails from Atlanta and has a master's degree in health care administration, began working at St. Anthony's in April 2012 and immediately moved toward a major reorganization. He began a 90-day "strategic performance improvement" initiative to identify $22 million in budget cuts. Half of these cost savings involved personnel, and half involved supplies and services.

In an interview last fall, Gardner said the hospital's reorganization was long overdue because of its "lackluster financial performance" and "ineffective leadership," with departments operating in silos, low staff morale and deteriorating teamwork. …

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