McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 24, 2009

Doctor quits MRHC board

By Kandra Wells

The city council plans re-appoint two members to the local hospital board tonight, days after another member of the board resigned at a planning session.

Dr. Chad Crawley told the room full of doctors and hospital employees Friday he was stepping down from his post on the McAlester Regional Health Center authority. The move comes days after the hospital CEO said Crawley should resign because his investment in another hospital creates of conflict of interest.

“I don’t know about conflict of interest, but I know that my interests were never conflicted,” Crawley said while addressing the meeting. “In the last eight months on this board, I never made a decision with Eufaula medical center mind.”

Crawley and Drs. Michael Boyer and Emory Hilton are among investors who purchased Community Hospital Lakeview, a small 33-bed facility. The state Department of Health issued a license for the Eufaula hospital to BHC, LLC on Jan. 1.

Earlier this month, MRHC CEO Shaun Beggs said the investment created a conflict of interest for Crawley, since Crawley serves on the McAlester board and invests in what Beggs called a competing hospital.

At tonight’s city council meeting, two agenda items include the reappointments of MRHC board members Evans McBride and Anthony Washington.

Crawley made it clear that his interest in the Eufaula hospital was made without malice towards the McAlester facility.

“It’s an investment opportunity,” he said. “I think that I’ve worked hard. I’ve done a residency, I’ve worked my hours, I’ve earned my check. And I feel like I should be able to invest where I wanted to.

“I never meant any ill will towards McAlester.”

The doctor said he was stepping down from the board for personal reasons, including his own health and his family.

“I’m not stepping down because I think I’ve done anything wrong,” Crawley said. “I’m not stepping down because I dislike this hospital. I’m stepping down because I’ve got to get my life in order.”

Employees and fellow doctors applauded as Crawley left the conference room at the Wellness Center to return to the hospital for an emergency.

Crawley had addressed the special hospital board and planning meeting for about 15 minutes following a presentation by Mark Rogers, the new Eufaula hospital administrator who is also CEO at the Pushmataha County Hospital in Antlers. Rogers said the new owners of the Eufaula hospital hope to strengthen a relationship between the Eufaula and McAlester facilities while improving services for Eufaula-area residents.

Asked for specifics by McAlester Dr. John Cotton, Rogers mentioned trying to influence patient outflow from Eufaula to McAlester instead of to Muskogee, where possible. Beyond that, he said discussions with McAlester CEO Beggs are ongoing. “That’s an emerging relationship and we’ll just have to deal with that as we go,” Rogers said. “The dust is still settling from the post-purchase and we’re just now formulating and we’re open to any and all.”

Rogers was also asked by McAlester board member Weldon Smith about the identities of other owners of the Eufaula hospital.

“The folks request anonymity and as a for-profit entity they’re entitled to that,” Rogers said.

The state health department had said an application for the Eufaula license is confidentially protected from public disclosure, despite efforts by the McAlester News-Capital to obtain the information through the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

Contact Kandra Wells at kwells@mcalesternews.com.