DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After 30 years, Dr. Ron Anderson is out as chief executive officer at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. The hospital board made the decision Tuesday night.
Dr. Anderson knew he had been on the “hot seat” for some time, as he said in a recent conversation. “I’ve had 30 years here, and we’ve made a lot of contributions and it’s been a pleasure.”
Dr. Anderson hasn’t been available for comment since the decision, but talked recently with CBS 11 when two county commissioners said publicly that he needed to be replaced. “I would be insincere if I said it didn’t bother me.” He said, though, he understands that he works at the pleasure of the Parkland Board.
His work has been overshadowed recently by a federal audit of Parkland that found the hospital lacking: in terms of practices that could spread infections and of tracking indigent patients. Patients themselves may have a different view.
“Parkland is my hospital,” insists Betty Goree, who claims she’s known Anderson for years. “They saved my life twice. And Dr. Anderson is a very inspirational man.”
Winona Kirkpatrick echoes a similar theme. “I have no complaints at all, I’ve been coming here since last spring and I’ve always been treated real well by the staff.”
Parkland board members insist they are not firing Dr. Anderson, but they will redefine his role in the hospital. Dr. Anderson’s current contract runs through then end of this year.
The board says it will hire an executive leadership consultant to work out his new role at Parkland.
But Dallas County Republican Chair Wade Emert believes the move was political and blames it on Commissioner John Wiley Price. “The board makes the decision but the board is appointed by the Commissioners Court. When the new administration took over back in January all the board members were replaced except for two. One of whom that was kept was Commissioner Price’s appointment.”
Emert’s also not sure Anderson would want to stay on, given current circumstances. “I think it would be very difficult for Dr. Anderson to take a position within a county where the most powerful politician—in Commissioner Price—clearly doesn’t want him there.”
Price didn’t return calls for comment. In a statement praising Anderson’s work, County Judge Clay Jenkins said, “The time has come for new leadership and a decisive cultural shift at this institution.”
Longtime board members say Anderson’s contributions are many: Alan Walne points to satellite clinics for the indigent; a world-class trauma center, and others. “The Burn Center, and the fact not only regionally, but nationally recognized. And look at all the doctors that are being trained.”
Anderson, says Walne, has a remarkable legacy. “If you live in Dallas county or you live in North Texas, you really ought to get on your knees and thank God that Ron Anderson has been at Parkland Hospital for the last 30 years.”