Tosh makes motion to remove Casteel

Henry County Medical Center board of trustees member Jamey Tosh (right) consults his notes as he makes a motion removing Lisa Casteel from her position as hospital CEO during Tuesday's board meeting. Listening (from left) are Kelly Winston, administrative assistant; Scott Whitby, chairman; and Troy Buttrey, vice chairman.

Henry County Medical Center has parted ways with its CEO, Lisa Casteel.

On Tuesday, the hospital's board of trustees unanimously approved a motion to remove the title and duties of CEO from Casteel, effective immediately, and to approve a mutual separation agreement that had been negotiated in the past few days.

Under the terms of the agreement, the parties agreed that Casteel's role will be changed from CEO to consultant effective immediately through January 31, 2022.

The motion was made by board member Jamey Tosh.

The board then approved a motion to appoint Brad Bloemer, the hospital's current chief financial officer, as interim CEO.

Casteel did not appear at the meeting.

Her leadership was called into question during a Dec. 6 work session between the hospital's board of trustees and the Henry County Commission.

That session, which had been called to discuss a $4.5 million bond issue, raised allegations of Casteel downplaying a mold issue in the surgery center, attempting to broker the sale of the surgery center to another hospital, and issues of workplace bullying and retribution.

By the time that session ended, Henry County Mayor John Penn Ridgeway and Commissioner Marty Visser had both called on Casteel to step down.

Reading from a prepared statement, board chairman Scott Whitby said the change in leadership was by agreement, with Casteel agreeing to provide assistance and consultation in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition to a new CEO.

Casteel began working at HCMC as CFO on Nov. 7, 2005. She was named CEO by the board on Feb. 23, 2017, after Tom Gee’s retirement.

“Lisa Casteel has been a valued employee of Henry County Medical Center for the past sixteen years and has provided leadership during the most challenging time in the history of the hospital, during an unprecedented pandemic that has challenged all health care delivery,” Whitby said. “This has been in addition to maintaining the sound finances and viability of the hospital in a time when rural hospitals across the state and country are closing at an alarming rate. Henry County Medical Center and the citizens of Henry County owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Casteel for this service,” Whitby said.

He also noted that with Casteel’s departure, the hospital was losing a CEO who had recently been voted Rural Hospital CEO of the Year by the Tennessee Hospital Association, which he called “a significant loss.”

Whitby also noted her “willingness to assist in her decision to step down from the position.”

Following the meeting, Whitby said the agreement was reached after negations by Shon Johnson, hospital attorney, and attorneys representing Casteel.

In other business, the board:

• Voted to hire a consulting business to evaluate the hospital’s leadership practices.

The board agreed to hire Work Institute of Franklin, which is led by a former CEO of Williamson County Hospital and focuses on health care. The company addresses problems like high employee turnover, key talent and first-year turnover and leadership concerns.

The board agreed to move ahead with researching leadership consulting businesses at their November meeting.

• Approved a financial report by Bloemer that showed a positive balance for November.

Bloemer said the hospital reported a profit of $337,000 for November. Although net patient revenues were under budget by $384,000, and expenses over budget by $460,000, the hospital’s consolidated operating margin saw a monthly gain of $410,000. Also, a total of $986,000 in stimulus funds were recorded as operating review for the month.

In a related item, the board recognized $662,883 in bad debt, including 189 charity care cases, 335 accounts in collections and one bankruptcy.

• Approved $59,609 in capital equipment requests.

That includes $31,270 in desktop computer replacements and $28,339 to replace the hospital’s osmometer — a piece of equipment used in blood analysis to detect poisoning, dehydration and other conditions.

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