Hospital weighing CEO’s future

Discussion in response to ill-advised trip, not legal issues

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Perry County Memorial Hospital's president and CEO, Patrick Carron, has been on administrative leave for more than two weeks, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The move reportedly came in the wake of a decision Carron made to travel to an out-of-town event after manifesting COVID-19 symptoms, violating protocols intended to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus that has led to deaths of more than 2,100 Missourians and more than 210,000 Americans.

"That's just one of the concerns," said a source with direct knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified. "That's not all of them, but none of them are about illegal concerns."

Sources say the board had previously been unhappy with Carron and described this latest matter as the straw that broke the camel's back.

The healthcare system board is expected to address the matter more fully in coming days.

The healthcare system board of directors — which is different from the publicly elected hospital board, although it shares members — has been silent on the matter, and has not returned numerous phone calls from the Republic-Monitor or responded directly to emails requesting comment.

During Carron's leave, hospital vice-president of operations and COO Chris Wibbenmeyer has been serving as interim CEO. Wibbenmeyer issued a brief statement on Tuesday.

"Per the Health System Board, I am replying as below," Wibbenmeyer said in an email. "The Perry County Health System Board is in the process of discerning a personnel matter. Once the matter is resolved a statement will be issued."

No other statements have been issued.

According to a hospital administration insider, "That's because the board specifically asked them not to comment."

In the wake of the board's silence, numerous rumors have spread throughout the community. The hospital addressed those rumors internally, issuing a memo to staff asking them to not add fuel to the fire.

"It was brought to our attention that many rumors are circulating regarding Patrick Carron's leave status and events that have taken place while he has been on leave," read the memo from the hospital's human resources department, which was obtained by the Republic-Monitor. "Unfortunately, these rumors appear to be increasing in number and circulating throughout the community. As your administrative team, we are requesting that you refrain from participating in the gossip or rumoring process and be cautious before believing that rumors are the same as truth."

The memo went on to describe Carron as "a long-standing leader of PCMH," and called the situation "a personnel matter that doesn't involve any elements of illegal activity as rumored."

Investigation into the rumors has produced no evidence of any criminal charges associated with the hospital, its CEO or any member of the board at the local, state or federal level.

"Please allow the board of directors the respect, time and space needed to work through this situation," said the memo. "Please be assured that when a statement can be made by either the board or your administrative team, such information will be communicated."

In the meantime, the memo asked hospital staff to focus on their duties.

"We have a duty to keep our focus on our patients and delivering our mission and vision to the community in everything we do," the memo reads. "Despite the difficulty of the current situation, the hospital is in very solid standing financially and with regard to compliance and with all government agencies and has a viable future for serving our community."

Attempts to reach Carron, who was named PCMH's president and CEO in 2005 after serving 12 years as vice president of operations, have been unsuccessful.

According to his staff page on the hospital website, Carron received a bachelor's degree in Nursing in 1986 at St. Louis University School for Health Sciences and Nursing, and a master's degree in Health Care Administration from St. Louis' Washington University School of Medicine in 1989 before completing a fellowship in Health Care Administration in 1989 at St. Luke's Hospital, Kansas City, and has been licensed as a nursing home administrator and has served as a member of various healthcare and educational boards.

Wibbenmeyer, a former radiologic technologist who holds a bachelor’s degree in Radiologic Sciences from the University of Missouri and a master's in Business Administration from Webster University, was named vice president of operations and COO at the hospital in 2016 after serving seven years as associate vice president of support services.

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