Feb. 10, 2005 Two Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center advisory board members resigned their positions in the wake of former health center administrator Erica McDonald's firing by Roy L. Schneider Hospital Chief Executive Officer Rodney Miller.
Board member Sam Morch, who had served as Myrah Keating Smith's administrator from 1983 to 1995, said he quit effective Thursday because the board members were not advised of McDonald's departure before it happened.
"I heard about it in bar," Morch said Tuesday.
He said it was "embarrassing and humiliating" to learn this way that McDonald was gone.
He said that St. John residents have made negative remarks to him about the value of the advisory board.
Morch said that while he didn't expect Miller to consult with the advisory board before firing McDonald, he said he wishes Miller would have had the courtesy to inform the advisory board before word hit the streets.
Miller said Wednesday that he met with the advisory board shortly after he fired McDonald.
"I did follow up with them," he said.
Miller said he had no obligation to consult with the advisory board first, and he didn't have to ask permission of the Roy L. Schneider Hospital governing board since it was a personnel matter. However, the board was informed of the decision before he told McDonald.
Miller declined to state his reasons for firing McDonald.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley also quit the advisory board, effective last week.
"I think the advisory board has no value," he said Thursday.
He said that he didn't want to waste his time serving on a board that no longer has input into the health center's operation and had no say in McDonald's employment.
He said he fears the health center will lose the extensive ground it gained since McDonald arrived five years ago.
Harley and Morch both had high praise for McDonald's work at the health center.
"She brought it from the brink of disaster," Morch said.
McDonald said Thursday that the advisory board formed when the hospital and the health center gained autonomy. She said she helped organize the board's roles and responsibilities. Additionally, she said the advisory board has 12 slots. Nine were filled, but the departure of Morch and Harley leaves five vacancies. Members serve three-year terms.
Advisory board chairman Deborah Charles could not be reached for comment.
McDonald, who served nearly five years at Myrah Keating Smith, said she expected to remain on St. Thomas until sometime in March.
"There are lots of things on the horizon. I'm looking at various opportunities," she said.
Until Miller finds a permanent replacement, the hospital's performance officer, Adeline Connor, is serving as acting administrator.
Miller said that several members of the hospital's leadership team make regular visits to Myrah Keating Smith to help out.
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