DeWitt, Dumas Hospitals Share Chief Executive

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 12:00 am  

Darren Caldwell is splitting his CEO time between hospitals in Dumas and DeWitt. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

Delta Memorial Hospital in Dumas took an unusual step to replace the CEO who recently resigned, leaving behind lawsuits and bruised feelings in the community. It partnered with another southeast Arkansas hospital to share its CEO.

Since Nov. 1, Darren Caldwell has split his time as CEO between Delta Memorial and DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home, where he had been CEO since 2002. It’s apparently the only case in Arkansas where one person is the CEO of two hospitals that have no common ownership. Both hospitals are owned by their cities and are managed by nonprofit entities.

“We’re hoping by bringing two facilities together that we stand a better chance of negotiating on not just supplies but on other contracts,” said the 47-year-old Caldwell.

Caldwell, who was born and raised in Dumas, also hopes to unite the community of just under 5,000 people after several residents called for the resignation of Delta Memorial’s previous CEO, Cris Bolin. At least 50 people attended a hospital board meeting in February and demanded answers to why she didn’t renew the contract of one of the community’s favorite physicians, Dr. Kong Hua “Peter” Go. The audience didn’t receive a specific answer.

Bolin remains at the hospital as its CFO but didn’t return several calls for comment.

The divide in the community caused Dumas Mayor James Berry to step down in the spring from his position on the Delta Memorial board of directors after about three years of service. “I thought it was beneficial for me not to be on the board because of the controversy,” Berry said.

He said he represents the entire city, not a small portion of it. And “it’s going to take some work” to heal the community and the hospital, he said.

Caldwell said the management agreement is temporary between the hospitals that are 35 miles apart and will be examined after a few months. Each hospital will pay half of his salary. In 2010, he made $148,508 from the DeWitt hospital.

In the meantime, “both facilities have every intention of maintaining their own identity,” Caldwell said. “There won’t be a merger of board members. Each facility will operate as its own. The management is the only thing that will be shared.”

Bolin’s History

Cris Bolin was named CEO of Delta Memorial in the second half of 2009 and stepped into a hospital that was losing money. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, Delta Memorial reported a loss of $1.2 million on total patient revenue of $20.3 million. In Bolin’s first year as CEO, the hospital reported total patient revenue of $29.6 million and a net income of $738,932.

For the fiscal year that ended in 2011, Delta reported net income of $542,417 on total patient revenue of $28.8 million.



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