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St. Joseph Medical Center's CEO resigns

The executive brought in to lead St. Joseph Medical Center as a crisis manager after a doctor was accused of placing unnecessary stents in hundreds of patients resigned Friday without explanation.

Jeffrey K. Norman became chief executive officer during a management shake-up in the fall of 2009, just months after Towson cardiologist Dr. Mark G. Midei stopped practicing at the hospital. Midei has since lost his license to practice medicine.


Norman plans to leave on Aug. 22. Hospital officials said they would begin a search for a successor immediately.

Beth O'Brien, senior vice president of Catholic Health Initiatives, the Colorado-based health system that operates St. Joseph, thanked Norman for his service.


In a statement, she said, "The path that has led St. Joseph to firmer footing is set. The plan and direction are in place for a smooth and seamless leadership transition. We know what we need to do."

The hospital faced a federal inquiry into the stent procedures, and many of the patients involved are suing the hospital. St. Joseph paid the federal government $22 million to settle separate claims of a kickback scheme involving a cardiology practice where Midei once worked and to repay Medicare funds received for Midei's stents.

In past interviews with The Baltimore Sun, Norman said Midei's departure had cost the hospital, where cardiology was a core service. Soon after Midei left the hospital, Norman said there was a 10 percent drop in the number of people admitted for cardiac care and a 30 percent drop in outpatient cardiac procedures, which included stent placements.

Norman said then that he sensed a "tentativeness" among patients and cardiologists about care at St. Joseph after the hospital announced findings of an internal investigation into the stent procedures.

"Patients are taking a pause; maybe their physicians referring patients are taking a pause," Norman said in February 2010. "I think we'll regain that trust and we'll regain that volume, but it'll take some time."

The hospital did not make Norman available for comment, and he did not return a phone call to his home.

The Morning Sun


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In a message to the hospital staff Friday, he sounded a more positive tone about the path of the hospital.

He wrote, "We had much to do to set a new strategic direction and rebuild the confidence of our community, our patients and our staff in the excellent care we provide. We have worked through important adjustments to our compliance program, improved our financial operations and made strides in even better patient satisfaction."


But the departure raised red flags to Mike Paul, a New York crisis-management consultant, who has watched the scandal unfold.

He said a hospital that was looking to rebuild its reputation should have provided more information about why the chief executive was leaving after just two years and before the fallout from the events was completely in the past. The average chief executive lasts about three or four years, he said.

"We are left to imagine what else is wrong," he said. "Everyone will have questions, and if they were my clients, I'd tell them that the truth always comes out eventually."