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Published: Monday, 3/17/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

Mercy CEO’s ‘downsizing’ upsets local community

Black leaders question health system’s move

BY MARLENE HARRIS-TAYLOR
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Andrea Price, Mercy president and CEO, is leaving her position after March 27. Andrea Price, Mercy president and CEO, is leaving her position after March 27.
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Andrea Price’s ouster as president and CEO of Mercy Health System has disappointed some leaders of the African-American community who question the hospital’s commitment to diversity.

Mercy officials announced Monday the hospital system is changing its leadership structure and consolidating roles, and Ms. Price will leave Mercy on March 27.

“During the past several months, Andrea Price and the Mercy Northern Market team have been working in conjunction with Catholic Health Partners leadership to implement transformational operational and re-organizational changes that address challenges in the health-care environment nationally and locally. We would like to express our gratitude for the outstanding work she has done for our mission, organization, and our patients,” Mercy officials said in a statement.

Mercy held a community meeting last month, led by Ms. Price, to announce the hospital system will implement several cost-cutting measures this year in the face of declining revenue and lower hospital admission rates.

“When downsizing is being initiated, I have never heard of the CEO being let go. If she was not doing her job, they should say that instead of using downsizing as a rationale,”said community activist Bernard “Pete” Culp, a member of the Toledo Community Coalition.

Mr. Culp said the coalition members, several African-American pastors, and other community leaders were all concerned when they heard rumors that Ms. Price was being moved out of her position. He said Ms. Price told him in private conversations she was blindsided by the decision, but in a statement released by the hospital Monday, she appeared to be ready to move on.

“The company and I have reached a mutually agreeable resolution of my employment, and I look forward to new endeavors,” said Ms. Price.

Ms. Price would not talk about her departure with The Blade, refusing to discuss it in several attempted phone calls.

Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes said his phone began to ring off the hook about a week ago with people calling to express concern about Ms. Price as rumors swirled across the community.

Mr. Sykes was a member of the Mercy Board of Directors for several years and a member of the board’s Human Resources committee as recently as a few months ago. “So naturally people thought to reach out to me,” he said.

Mr. Sykes said he heard from all segments of the community and although he is happy that Ms. Price seems to have reached an amicable resolution with Mercy, she will be missed. “I understand business and I understand changes. What’s disappointing to me is that you bring a person in who is doing a wonderful job as they stated themselves and young girls and especially African-American females will miss that leadership in the sense of a role model.”

Both Mr. Sykes and Mr. Culp said they will still seek to have a meeting with Mercy officials to get a better understanding of their decision and how the changes they are making are going to impact the hospital systems mission to serve the poor.

Ms. Price joined the health system in 2009 as chief operating officer and was named to the top position of CEO a year later in 2010.

About five months ago, the local not-for-profit health system restructured the top leadership positions again and promoted Dr. Imran Andrabi to chief operating officer to assist Ms. Price.

Dr. Andrabi is responsible for the daily operations of Mercy, including its hospitals and physicians.

Last September, Ms. Price was named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of their “130 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know.” And in 2008 she was named by Modern Healthcare Magazine as one of the industry’s Top 25 minority executives.

The health system that includes seven hospitals in the Toledo area, including Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, has more than 7,500 employees, 1,350 medical staff members, and $900 million in net revenues.

Mercy is part of Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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