Enloe’s failures of oversight

Dr. Benson is a retired orthopedic surgeon who formerly was affiliated with Enloe Medical Center. It was he who placed an advertisement in the Chico Enterprise-Record in late April seeking a vote of confidence on Enloe CEO Dan Neumeister. He is shown with his grandson, Blake Nelson.

While those unaware of the actions of Enloe Hospital’s administrator over the past few years might have difficulty understanding the urgency required in removing him and his administration, the hospital’s Board of Trustees should not be surprised.

This administration’s failure to listen to the nurses regarding patient care issues and lack of respect for their concerns resulted in the nurses’ reluctantly becoming unionized. The administration’s response, rather than listening, was to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Burke Group, whose actions further alienated the nursing staff. This has been a real benefit to other, surrounding hospitals, as dozens of highly qualified and experienced former Enloe nurses now commute to work elsewhere.

Three years ago, at the spring leadership meeting of physicians and the Board of Trustees held at Lake Tahoe, the board was advised by those physicians present that this administration was deceptive, untrustworthy, untruthful and aggressive.

When I called for an online vote of confidence or no confidence because of repeated requests from people I previously worked with (physicians and non-physicians), the reaction of the board was to attack the messenger even before the message—no confidence—was known.

Even after the medical staff took a similar vote of no-confidence, the trustees have consistently and repeatedly expressed their complete confidence in the administration. Only after community pressure began to mount did the trustees begin expressing their “concern.” Were they the last in the community to know about the problems at Enloe, of which the anesthesia crisis is only one of many?

To act decisively now would be neither rash nor sudden, but it would come too late to stop the loss of several dedicated and experienced physicians regarded by many of their colleagues as the best in their profession. Their absence leaves a hole in the health care of this community that may take years to fill.

Though it’s denied by the administration and board, many people in the community have become reluctant because of the widely known problems to have their health needs cared for at Enloe. This has resulted in the lowest census in years, and the administration has forced employees to take days off or use vacation time. While many of the physicians can afford to take unscheduled time off, many other workers cannot. Further delay in making the needed and unavoidable changes in the administration unnecessarily punishes those who can least afford it.

The Enloe trustees’ delayed awareness represents a failure of oversight that is inexcusable and as indefensible as their failure to make the decisive changes that are required to move on.