PeaceHealth Holds Onto Beth O’Brien

The Lund Report has been given a complete list of the 47 executives who remain, which shows that 9 positions are vacant.

Beth O’Brien, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of PeaceHealth, appears to remain on board following a tumultuous time at the health system during which high-level executives have either resigned or been asked to leave. O’Brien’s two-year contract came up for renewal in September, and the board of PeaceHealth has not taken any action to give her walking orders, according to insiders who spoke to The Lund Report.

During O’Brien’s tenure, patient satisfaction has remained poor, employee engagement and trust in management is even worse, quality metrics are roughly the same, and profitability has deteriorated, confidential sources said.

Also millions of dollars have been spent on severance agreements, retained searches to fill executive roles, sign on bonuses for new executives and for consultants.

Financial disclosures show that PeaceHealth has paid $22.7 million in “separation benefits” over the past three years, while non-executive workers say they’re being wrongly fired

The current list of executives who remain at PeaceHealth indicates that nine positions are vacant.

Nancy Steiger, who had been chief executive of its Columbia Network, and spent nine years in executive positions, is the last executive to hand in her resignation. .

She held numerous roles during her career at PeaceHealth, having been CEO and chief mission officer in Washington and Alaska, and the Northwest Network. Steiger, who was hired by Alan Yordy, joined PeaceHealth in July 2007 as CEO and chief mission officer of the St. Joseph Medical Center.

Announcing her departure on Linked In, Steiger wrote, “I've decided to take the summer off and consider my next chapter.”

Kirk Raboin, chief administrative officer at the St. John Medical Center in Longview, Wash., also left PeaceHealth recently after a 36-year career. He’s since joined The Vancouver Clinic and has taken over imaging responsibilities.

Making the announcement, O’Brien called Raboin “an inspirational leader,” saying he made a remarkable commitment to the mission and the patients at PeaceHealth during his lengthy service.

The St. John’s Medical Center has been plagued with financial losses the past few years, and, according to insiders, the situation has not improved.

“The entire Columbia Network (Southwest; St. John) is underperforming and the other areas (St. Joseph in Bellingham and Sacred Heart in Eugene) are being demanded to perform at higher than normal levels to support those two facilities, and it’s not sustainable,” the insider told The Lund Report. “Peace Health needs to sell both facilities to another provider who is able to make them work. As a system, PeaceHealth continues to lose money on everything Vancouver-related. The organization seems to operate like it is huge, but in relative scale of total number of employees, total number of inpatient beds, and total number of employed doctors, it’s pretty small.”

Questions are also being raised about security concerns inside PeaceHealth, and the role of its chief information security officer.

“Many subject matter experts or qualified people are leaving PeaceHealth because they are not taken seriously and feel that PeaceHealth is not taking enough of the needed steps to ensure the security of sensitive data and/or access as advised,” the inside source said. “It is more about who is friends with who and not their expertise, which is how she was able to step into this role to begin with.

“Qualified people are bailing fast. No one wants their name associated to an inevitable breach. It is going to happen because they are not taking the advice of the experts they hire. They are ignored time and time again. So to summarize none of the current managers on these three security teams have any technical or practical security experience.”

In June 2014, the end of its fiscal year, St. John’s annual profits fell to $1.9 million, according to an article in the Portland Business Journal. Those losses occurred because of declining patient visits and lower Medicaid reimbursements. Quite a change from June 2011 when it had record earnings of $27.7 million.

The medical centers in Bellingham, Eugene and Springfield are holding their own in terms of profitability. Sacred Heart Riverbend earned a profit margin of 16.69 percent in 2014, the latest figures available, compared to a showing of 7.45 percent the prior year, according to an analysis by The Lund Report.

But these three hospitals continue to subsidize the low financial performance at Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, the St. John Medical Center in Longview and the corporate system office in Vancouver.

Who Else Left PeaceHealth

Many top-level executives have lost their jobs after O’Brien took over, including:

  • Alan Yordy, President, CEO and Chief Mission Officer
  • Tricia Roscoe, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Innovation and Development
  • John Hill, Chief Executive Officer, Oregon West Network
  • Kevin Wahlstrom, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
  • Ryan Ball, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer
  • Dr. Howard Graman, Chief Executive Officer, PeaceHealth Medical Group
  • Sy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Columbia Network
  • Kathy Dean, System Vice President, Communications and Marketing.
  • Dr. Michael Murphy, PeaceHealth Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer
  • Gordon Edwards, System Vice President of Finance and Columbia Network CFO
  • Steve Glenn, System Vice President of Governance, and Chief of Staff
  • Chief Information Officer Dan Hein
  • Chief Nursing Officer Victoria King
  • Interim CFO Peggy Allen

Diane can be reached at [email protected].

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