- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2008

— The board chairman of the University of Maryland Medical System resigned Wednesday amid allegations he was pushed out by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

John C. Erickson resigned at a regular board meeting in Baltimore.

Mr. Erickson stormed out of the meeting, saying he was pushed out of the job by Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, according to the Baltimore Business Journal and multiple sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

However, he later issued a statement contradicting that account.

“I have been consulting with Gov. Martin O’Malley and other elected leaders in the state,” Mr. Erickson said. “Governor O’Malley and I, through a series of conversations, mutually decided that a change in the leadership was in the best interests of UMMS and the University of Maryland Medical School.”

Nine other board members also walked out of the meeting, though a UMMS spokeswoman decline to comment about their departures.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, will serve as interim chairman of the board.

The 27-member board met Wednesday in part to discuss hiring a new chief executive officer. The $1.9 billion system has been without a permanent one since Edmond Notebart left on Aug. 1.

Board members took a vote of no confidence on Mr. Notebart in May, but have not yet settled on a new hire.

Mr. Busch, who has been a member of the board since 2004, has helped in the search for a new CEO and helped vet multiple candidates for the position, including former MedStar Chief Executive Officer John McDaniel and Michael Merson, leader of Duke Global Health Institute.

Sources said Mr. O’Malley was unhappy that the board wants to hire Mr. McDaniel.

Robert A. Chrenzik, the system’s chief financial officer, is serving as interim CEO.

The system manages large Baltimore hospitals, including the University of Maryland Medical Center, and two Eastern Shore medical centers. UMMS is responsible for more than 11,500 employees and more than 3,000 physicians.

Mr. O’Malley has appointed seven new members to the board in the last month, including many of his strongest political supporters and the state’s most influential businessmen.

John P. Coale, a trial lawyer who loaned Mr. O’Malley $500,000 in the waning days of the 2006 campaign, was appointed to the board on Aug. 11. Alan Fleischmann, who ran former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s failed campaign for governor in 2002, was appointed on July 28.

Mr. O’Malley also appointed Stephen A. Burch, former president of Comcast Cable, who was criticized for hiring politically connected people, including former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell’s two sons. Mr. Bromwell, a Democrat, is serving a federal prison sentence on racketeering and other charges.

“The governor has made appointments that he believes will serve the long-term interests of the medical system and the doctors, researchers, students and support staff that have made the University of Maryland Medical System what it is today,” an O’Malley spokeswoman said.

Former Maryland Health Secretary Dr. Georges C. Benjamin appeared Wednesday evening to be the only new appointment with direct health care experience.

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