Head of UMC quits for job at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, San Martin

The head of University Medical Center is leaving his post for the private sector, months after the county hospital’s governing board opted not to raise his salary with staff layoffs looming.

UMC Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Barnard will take a similar post at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, San Martin campus, a division of Dignity Health, for whom his UMC predecessor, Brian Brannman, began working in January. The opportunity to work for Dignity Heath and his former boss led to Barnard’s decision to change health care providers, he said Monday. He’ll leave after just less than a year in this job.

For the first several months of the year, the UMC governing board studied the compensation appropriate for Barnard, and officials were reaching a consensus when the layoffs were about to be announced, board Chairman John O ‘Reilly said. From April until August, hundreds of positions were eliminated from the UMC system through layoffs and attrition.

While they never reached an exact figure for Barnard’s compensation package, all parties agreed that the announcement of his contract should wait until after the ordeal of the downsizing had passed, O’Reilly said.

Barnard’s base salary was about $240,000, according to UMC spokeswoman Danita Cohen.

The leadership team Barnard, 35, brought to UMC the past year will remain, and the county hospital’s governing board on Friday will discuss naming Chief Operating Officer Mason VanHouweling to the position of interm CEO, O’Reilly said. VanHouweling has been a vital part of the efforts put into place by Barnard to offer new services, cut expenses and provide quality patient care, O’Reilly said.

UMC Chief of Staff Dr. Dale Carrison expressed disappointment that members of the Clark County Commission and UMC board never offered Barnard a raise or contract to remain as the CEO of the hospital.

“This job is less than 50 percent of what you should be paid to head this size of a hospital,” he said. “He was the real thing, young, full of energy. He was making positive changes. He was building a team.”

Carrison also mentioned Associate Administrator Andrew Chung and Executive Director of Support Services Mike Knuckles as important leaders improving UMC’s efficiency.

Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said the loss of Barnard reveals the economic realities of running a public hospital in competition with the private sector.

“I’m going to miss him, personally. It’s bittersweet because I’m happy for him. It’s a great opportunity for his family,” Weekly said. “But we can’t just go out in the street waving $400,000 to $500,000 like the hospital where he’s going. We’re a public hospital.”

For his part, Barnard said his decision to leave UMC has nothing to do with the level of support he received from the board members or commissioners, who Barnard said fully supported innovations he initiated during the year. Barnard was optimistic progress at UMC would continue.

“They’re going to continue to make changes and move forward,” he said. “As long as the institution continues to make well-thought-out decisions, UMC will be sustainable for the future in meeting the needs of the community.”

Barnard follows the lead of Brannman, vice president of operations for Dignity Health Nevada, and CEO of St. Rose Dominican — Sienna campus. Rod Davis, the senior vice president of operations for Dignity Health Nevada, retires at the end of the year.

University Medical Center has struggled to stay afloat financially, and the public hospital provides indigent care to those who are unable to pay. Challenges are only expected to grow as private sector competition increases with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which will allow more people to choose their medical providers.

The county increased the hospital’s subsidy for this year from $41 million to $71 million and provided it with $45 million in loans. County officials have expressed a desire to see the subsidy reduced.

Layoffs and closures of some services have hit the public hospital under Barnard’s tenure, as the hospital looked for ways to save money. The hospital in August eliminated 285 positions from its 3,400-employee workforce, 224 of which were layoffs. Another 61 vacant positions stayed unfilled. That move is expected to save $21.5 million this year. The hospital also shed 105 positions in April.

Barnard was appointed as interim CEO in January to replace Brannman. Barnard started at UMC in August 2012 and was the public hospital’s COO before ascending to the head job.

Contact Steven Moore at 702-380-4563 or smoore@reviewjournal.com.

Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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