Hyde resigns as commission chairman

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Steve Hyde resigned his position as chairman of the Memorial Commission on Ownership and Governance effective today.

Commission member Bob Lally was elected to replace him. Jay Patel will serve as co-vice chairman with member Martha Barton.

Hyde cited conflicts with family life and his full-time job as reasons for the resignation.

“I was (and am) highly gratified to have been chosen by city council on the basis of my reputation and my four decades of health care industry experience,” Hyde wrote in a resignation letter to Mayor Lionel Rivera.

The Memorial Commission was formed earlier this year – and started meeting in March – to determine the future of Memorial Health System. The group is expected to make recommendations whether to sell Memorial or change its governance by November.

Hyde said the commission had evolved beyond what he had expected.

“The great majority of my time, energy and efforts are now devoted to issues that – however necessary – are unrelated to the subject-matter knowledge I had hoped to contribute to the commission’s work,” he said.

Hyde’s is the third resignation on the commission. Real estate broker Tim Leigh and B.J. Scott, CEO of Peak Vista Health Center, both resigned early on, citing conflicts of interest. The two – along with Hyde – were selected by the city council without a formal interview process.

Rivera said he expected a “certain number” of resignations when the commission was formed, because of the public scrutiny and heavy workload associated with the Memorial commission.

“His reasons listed were certainly valid,” he said. “It can be tough to juggle work, family and volunteering. Sometimes, without an assistant, that becomes a full-time job.”

Rivera said he would not replace Hyde on the commission, leaving nine members to decide the future of the city-owned hospital system.

Dave Munger, one of the commission members, credited Hyde with getting the commission focused on its task.

“He helped shift our attention to specific criteria for making effective and well-researched recommendations about the future of Memorial Health System, Munger said. “We appreciate his unique perspective on health care and we’ll miss his valuable input.”

Board member Peggy James said she was taken by surprise by Hyde’s resignation.

“He had a lot of expertise in the health care field,” she said. “But he also had his own point of view.”

Here is the text of Hyde’s resignation letter:

Dear Mayor Rivera:

It is with deep disappointment and regret that I resign from the Memorial Citizens’ Commission, effective immediately. I originally volunteered to serve as a part-time volunteer to lend whatever health care expertise I may have to the important work of the Commission. Indeed, I was (and am) highly gratified to have been chosen by City Council on the basis of my reputation for integrity and my four decades of health care industry experience.

However, the Commission has evolved to the point where the great majority of my time, energy, and efforts are now devoted to issues that-however necessary-are unrelated to the subject-matter knowledge I had hoped to contribute to the Commission’s work. These include frequent and lengthy meetings, management responsibilities, committee coordination, media relations (especially with respect to inaccurate media reporting), responses to public open-records demands, internal communications, and internal Commission politics and intrigue-matters that allow me to add little direct value to the Commission’s mission. More to the point, it has become an almost full-time job. As a result, I am unable to reconcile my Commission duties with the conflicting demands of my family life and my full-time professional activities.

After much thought, I conclude that the only way to resolve my dilemma is to resign both my Commission membership and chairmanship while the Commission is still early in its process of meeting the December 2010 deadline to present its conclusions and recommendations to City Council. This will allow plenty of time for the Commission to transition smoothly to new leadership and the important task at hand.

The Commission has been charged with recommending what amounts to a half-billion dollar decision on the future of Memorial Health System in an era of increasing instability and unpredictability for the nation’s single-market community hospitals. At stake are both major risks and significant opportunities for the City’s government, taxpayers, voters, health care consumers, and MHS itself. I congratulate City Council for the timeliness of its decision to establish the Commission while MHS is still in a strong financial and competitive position. Other communities have not shown such foresight in addressing similar issues and have often failed to act before their options became far more limited than the ones still available to MHS and the City.

I wish the Commission every success in developing recommendations that best meet the challenging objectives laid down by City Council in the Commission’s Charter. Again, I regret that I will not be able to contribute from within. However, I intend to follow its progress with great interest while continuing to actively participate as a member of the public.

Respectfully,

Stephen S. S. Hyde