UCSF STANFORD: Top Execs Resign, Consultants Move in
UCSF Stanford Health Care President Peter Van Etten and Executive Vice President William Kerr resigned yesterday as part of "last week's decision by the presidents of the University of California and Stanford University to 'reassess' the two-year-old merger of their teaching hospitals," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. David Hunter, founder of the St. Petersburg, FL-based Hunter Group consulting firm -- famous for heavy handed cost-cutting strategies -- will serve as interim manager of the system. UCSF Stanford Chair Isaac Stein said, "Peter and Bill wanted to facilitate any organizational changes resulting from the study requested last week" (Abate/Schevitz, 8/10). Wanda Jones, a consultant with New Century Health Care, said, "Whenever you go through a bad patch of water, it's not unusual to have management step aside, to take away the lightning rod, the blame, and give the board leeway (to create change)." Van Etten and Kerr will leave their positions Aug. 16. Meanwhile, UCSF Stanford Health Care, which expects to lose $60 million this year, is awaiting the results of a state audit (Krieger, San Jose Mercury News, 8/10).
The Consultant They Love to Hate
Hunter, who has been working with UCSF Stanford since December, helped UC-San Diego Medical Center recover from a $21 million deficit in 1996 and arrive at a current surplus of $24 million. However, Warren Gold, president of the UC-San Francisco Faculty Association, said the consultant "achieved much of his savings by contracting out care for the poor to community groups and severing their connection with the university." UC-San Diego Faculty Association President David Braff said, "The Hunter Group has a cut and slash mentality where they make rather draconian cuts. They are treating an academic system like it is any other hospital system," rather than seeking additional state funds. At UCSF Stanford Health Care, the Hunter Group has already eliminated 600 jobs "through layoffs and attrition" and plans to cut an additional 2,000, leading to a predicted $170 million in savings. The Hunter Group, however, has also drawn fire for its high fees -- costing UCSF Stanford Health Care $2.7 million as of June 9. Hunter said, "We have to get these institutions to quit bleeding and give their parents the time to decide what they want to do in coming years" (Chronicle, 8/10).