Tim Ford steps down as CEO of Springfield Hospital
His resignation was effectively immediately
SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Tim Ford is out as the chief executive officer of Springfield Medical Care Systems (SMCS), the parent company of Springfield Hospital, the company announced Wednesday.
The company accepted Ford’s immediate resignation, it said in a statement, but did not give a specific reason for Ford’s departure, which follows the resignation a week ago of the company’s chief financial officer, Scott Whittemore.
Ford and hospital directors could not be reached for comment.
The company’s Chief of Practice Operations Josh Dufresne will serve as the primary administrative contact for SMCS and Springfield Hospital until an interim CEO and CFO are named, the company said.
The exit of Ford is the latest in a series of events that have indicated serious financial problems at the hospital. At recent public and private meetings, several current employees at the hospital have told stories of unpaid bills, low morale, and confusion about the company’s financial position.
Vendors have reported slow payment or no payment for services provided to the hospital, and emergency service workers now employed by Emergency Services of New England, Inc. of Chester are worried about the hospital’s plan to change next spring to Bluewater Emergency Partners of Brunswick, Maine.
“This is an important time as we take a closer look at our health system’s operations and long-term needs to ensure we are positioned to serve the community well into the future. A new leadership team will provide stability and a fresh perspective as we continue this process,” the company news release quoted George Lamb, the chair of SMCS’s board of directors.
In the statement, Lamb indirectly acknowledges the financial issues, saying “the board is fully engaged and will be working with interim leadership to immediately address and stabilize financial and operational issues for both organizations.”
“We are going to closely monitor the situation,” said Susan Barrett, the executive director of the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB), a unit of the Vermont governor’s office that is charged with reducing the rate of health care cost growth in Vermont while ensuring high quality, accessible health care.
“We have been in close contact with Springfield Hospital ever since we learned of the issues,” Barrett said. GMBC has requested background information on the hospital’s expenses and financial condition, and the Medicare payments it receives, she added.
The GMCB board was scheduled to meet Wednesday, but no action regarding Springfield Hospital or SMCS was expected, she said. However, Barrett said GMCB board chair Kevin Mullin would meet privately with Lamb next week “to look at the issues.”
“We respect the [SMCS] board’s decision…We want to support this community.”
Springfield select board member Peter MacGillivray said the news was “a surprise, but there are no surprises. I put a lot of faith in that [hospital] board ... they want what is best for the community,” he said. Regarding Ford’s departure, he added, “It was probably a good thing.”
While the select board is certainly interested in the fate of Springfield Hospital, MacGillivray said, it has no immediate plans to attempt to directly intervene with the company or take any governmental action.