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CHI St. Alexius Board Meets Amid Doctors' Revolt

By Steven Porter  
   May 17, 2018

The meeting Thursday follows resignations this week by the organization's medical executive committee.

A group of physician leaders at CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck, North Dakota, resigned from their posts on the organization's medical executive committee this week, citing conflict with their regional administrative office.

In a blunt letter to the board chairman, the group called for the ouster of four people from their divisional office nearly 200 miles away in Fargo, as the local Fox affiliate reported. The doctors threatened to step down from the committee effective May 15, which was Tuesday, if their demands were not met.

Charles Allen, DO, FACEP, FACOEP, an emergency physician who had been serving as the committee's president, confirmed to HealthLeaders Media that the committee had, in fact, resigned as threatened.

"There have been no dismissals or resignation letters from administration at this time," Allen wrote in an email Wednesday evening.

  • Board meeting Thursday. When asked for an update on the organization's response, a spokesperson confirmed that the board of directors for CHI St. Alexius Health will meet on Thursday in a closed session. Any key actions the board takes will be announced thereafter, the spokesperson said.
  • Seeking a resolution. Earlier in the week, the spokesperson reiterated an earlier statement acknowledging that Catholic Health Initiatives and CHI St. Alexius Health are aware of the committee members' concerns and hoping to find a resolution.
  • Dispute is long-running. The committee's letter noted that frustrations with the CHI Fargo Division administrative staff had previously led to a vote of no confidence, a letter of disapproval sent to the national office, and an offer in February for the members to resign from the committee. The division's Fargo-based executive officer, Jeffery S. Drop, has responded with promises but insufficient action, the letter states.
  • Docs want four heads. The letter specifically calls for the dismissal or resignation of Drop; Benjamin Chaska, MD, the division's chief medical officer; and Francine Kyaw, the division director for physician and advanced practice clinician employment services. It also calls for the organization to end its relationship with Matt Grimshaw, a regional president.
  • Don't forget geography. The doctors also requested that the division office be relocated from Fargo to Bismarck. "We understand that these changes will not resolve the myriad of problems that face our facilities," the doctors wrote. "But a new leadership team based in the heart of the communities we serve will act as a good-faith effort to rebuild our foundation. We need administrators and physicians working side by side, as a team."

One doctor whose name is listed on the letter, neuroscience chair Stephen Markewich, does not appear to have signed it. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.

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