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Months later, Mercy not actively seeking new local president

In leadership team changes, hospital eliminates two vice president roles

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Eight months after an interim leadership team was installed at Mercy Springfield Communities, the health care system is not actively seeking a new local president, according to an official.

In September, Mercy Central Communities Regional President Jon Swope temporarily took over for Dr. Alan Scarrow. Health system officials in November announced Scarrow was removed from the president role and that Swope would serve in the interim “for the foreseeable future.” Scarrow, who took the president post in early 2015, stayed on as a full-time neurosurgeon.

In an emailed statement on May 8, Mercy Springfield Communities spokeswoman Sonya Kullmann delivered a similar message.

“There is no search currently underway for a permanent president of Mercy Springfield Communities,” Kullmann said via email. “Jon Swope is serving as the interim president for the foreseeable future.”

CMS scrutiny
Swope, who was unable to be reached for comment, took over as interim president during a tumultuous time for Mercy Hospital-Springfield. 

Staff at the hospital, 1235 E. Cherokee St., came under fire last year from allegations of abuse or neglect of four patients in the emergency and psychiatric departments.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services threatened to terminate Mercy Hospital-Springfield’s Medicare agreement while a safety investigation was ongoing. At the time, Mercy fired 12 health care providers, alluding to a lack of treating “patients and visitors with dignity and compassion, even in highly tense situations.”

CMS eventually rescinded its threat of withholding reimbursements, formally an “immediate jeopardy” status, when federal officials determined Mercy sufficiently corrected its “condition-level deficiencies.”

“Mercy Hospital Springfield is in full compliance with state and federal standards,” Kullmann said on May 8. “State surveyors, during their last visit, identified some of our processes and procedures as best practices and will be sharing those with organizations across the state.”

Executives removed
Separately, Kullmann confirmed a leadership transition occurred recently.

Resulting from an organizational structure review, she said two vice presidents “will no longer be serving as part of the Mercy Springfield leadership team.” She declined to disclose the names of the executives, citing personnel policy, or say whether they stayed on in other roles.

In calls to Mercy’s administrative office, Springfield Business Journal learned Kevin Rash and Eric Fuhr, who previously held vice president positions, are no longer employed by the hospital. Both Rash and Fuhr did not respond to SBJ’s contact attempts through social media. SBJ could not confirm the timing of their exits.

An SBJ story from 2016 identified Rash as vice president of surgery integrated clinical services. Rash’s LinkedIn profile currently is listed as unavailable.

According to SBJ archives, Fuhr accepted the position of vice president of operations and surgical specialties in 2012.

Kullmann said the leadership change took effect in early April after Mercy officials identified a need for its vice presidents to focus directly on their areas of expertise.
 
“In general, the vice presidents whose responsibilities cross both the hospital and clinics are focusing on entire service lines like heart or musculoskeletal,” Kullmann said. “The rest of the vice presidents are focused on either the hospital or the clinic – a traditional model – and are using their expertise to improve things like primary care and emergency care.”

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