Review produces findings and recommendations for moving forward

Manchester, NH (June 7, 2023) —Catholic Medical Center (CMC) announces the independent review of CMC’s cardiac surgery program and administrative processes is complete and has produced several key findings and recommendations.  In line with CMC’s commitment to transparency, the Board is releasing the full report to the public today. 

Last fall, after media reports questioned the safety of CMC’s cardiac surgery program, the CMC Board of Trustees (Board) engaged Horty Springer & Mattern (HortySpringer), nationally known in the healthcare industry for providing legal services and advice to hospitals and health systems, to conduct a thorough, independent review. The Board asked HortySpringer to evaluate a number of areas around the quality and safety of CMC’s cardiac surgery program, as well as past and present policies, processes and procedures related to the medical staff, hospital administration, and Board.

The Board created a special committee to work with HortySpringer. That committee was charged with overseeing and facilitating a comprehensive review. HortySpringer interviewed more than 90 current and former providers, employees, administrators, Board members and others, and reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents over seven months.  In addition, HortySpringer independently engaged NorthGauge Healthcare Advisors to perform a clinical overview of CMC’s cardiac program.

The review finds that the current cardiac surgery program at CMC is top-tiered and high functioning with excellent outcomes. The review also finds CMC’s expert medical staff, nurses and support staff create a strong foundation for the consistent delivery of high-quality care. HortySpringer further concludes that allegations of data manipulation are unfounded, as are claims that CMC placed profits over patient safety, or deliberately withheld information from the Board or medical staff leaders. 

However, the review identifies significant organizational shortcomings that must be changed and improved. This includes an overhaul of the peer review process and quality management programs, as well as increased oversight and accountability. The report also identifies the need for improved communication and efforts to mend a perceived culture of distrust and retaliation.  The review provides specific recommendations for addressing these areas. 

The Board has charged President & CEO Alex Walker to immediately begin implementing these recommendations. The implementation plan will be a collaboration of the Board, Medical Executive Committee (MEC), and administration that ensures transparency and maintains open communication, identifies priorities and resources required, a timeline, and measures of accountability. 

Statement from CMC Board Chair Timothy Riley: 

 “The CMC Board recognizes that the trust of our patients and community is something we must work to earn every day.  That begins with transparency, accountability and ensuring the care we provide our patients is always the very best it can be. That is why we engaged HortySpringer to conduct this independent review, and why we are releasing the full report to the public today. 

The report affirms the high quality of our cardiac program, and the expertise and dedication of our staff.  But the report also highlights shortcomings with processes, oversight and culture that must be addressed.  As a board and as an institution, we must hold ourselves accountable and learn what could have been done better.  This report provides a roadmap for what CMC must do to improve, and we are fully committed to doing just that.

We trust Alex Walker’s leadership skills, values and commitment to CMC.  We have charged him to begin developing a collaborative process that will bring together the Medical Executive Committee (MEC), the Board, and the Administration to implement the recommendations in the report.  The Board will be an active participant and overseer in this process as we chart the future for CMC.  We recognize this work as our highest priority for the hospital moving forward.

The Board appreciates HortySpringer for their diligence and hard work over these last seven months.  I want to thank our Board members for their commitment to CMC and acknowledge the tireless work of the special committee of the Board who oversaw the 7-month review, in particular chair of the special committee Pamela Diamantis and our outside advisor and governance expert, Tom Donovan.” 

Statement from Board Vice-Chair & Chair of the Special Committee Pamela Diamantis: 

“Throughout this process, the Special Committee worked to ensure the full independence of HortySpringer’s process, and that they had access to whatever people and documents they needed to conduct their review.  Hospital personnel were encouraged to cooperate with the review process and to be fully candid with their reviewers. HortySpringer was directed to take their review wherever it led, and their report demonstrates the care and thoroughness they brought to this project.” 

Statement from President & CEO Alex Walker: 

“I accept the findings of this independent review and I take responsibility for them, especially those areas where we have fallen short and could have done better. I am committed to building on the strengths identified in the report and working to implement the recommendations necessary for us to improve and move forward. 

CMC is a high quality hospital, with skilled and dedicated employees.  The report highlights our extended team of passionate and talented doctors, nurses and staff who are motivated to serve our patients. Those core values are the bedrock of our hospital and have been for generations.  I thank each of our employees for what they do every day.

The report highlights key areas where we have not lived up to our standards and values.  We must rebuild our peer review and quality management processes.  We need to ensure better communication at all levels, building a culture of trust and accountability. We clearly have work to do to ensure we are always delivering on our mission of health, healing and hope, and providing the highest quality care to our patients and their families.

I look forward to collaborating with the Medical Executive Committee, the medical staff, our hospital teams, and the Board on the implementation plan.  We are already acting on several recommendations, starting with a national search for a new Chief Medical Officer, a key leadership position that will provide fresh perspectives.

Communication among and between the Board, the medical staff and Senior Leadership must improve. Transparent and timely communication is the glue that holds strong organizations together, building trust and respect and ensuring accountability at all levels.  This is something we’re already working on, and will continue with the release of this report. 

Other recommendations will take more time, but we commit to bring to the table whatever resources and expertise are needed to move forward. We will work smartly and deliberately to implement the recommendations in this report. We remain committed to keeping our community involved and informed of our progress.” 

 Statement from Dr. Patricia Furey, President of Medical Staff: 

“The report noted that our talented doctors, nurses, and care teams are passionate and motivated to serve our patients. I can say, in more than 30 years of practicing medicine at some of the most esteemed health systems in the country, that my colleagues at CMC are among the very best doctors I have ever worked with. This is a medical staff of dedicated professionals and people I would trust with the care of my family members.  While this report is sobering, we know the most effective way to make improvements is by working together with a singular focus on the health and well-being of our patients and families.

This is a thorough and comprehensive report.  We have work to do to improve our peer review and quality management processes and improve communication at all levels. I am committed to working with Alex Walker and the Board to implement the report’s recommendations, ensuring the care we provide our patients continues to be of the highest quality.” 

Report Link:

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About Catholic Medical Center:
Catholic Medical Center (“CMC”) is a nonprofit regional health system, with a commitment to delivering the highest quality and most advanced healthcare to patients across New Hampshire.  CMC is the home of the nationally-renowned New England Heart and Vascular Institute, rated among the top cardiovascular programs in the country. Our doctors were the first in the state to perform a mechanical heart/left ventricular assist device implant and first in New England to implant the WATCHMAN™ for atrial fibrillation. CMC was also one of the first hospitals in New Hampshire to establish a joint venture with independent medical staff members when it became a partner in the freestanding Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center and imaging center. CMC’s birthing unit, The Mom’s Place, was the first hospital in the country to have a neonatal unit based on “couplet care.” Our nationally accredited Breast Care Center was the first in the state to use contrast enhanced mammography and SAVI SCOUT® localization for breast surgery. With primary care practices that care for the very young to the young at heart and our dedication to community outreach programs, CMC is helping to foster a healthier community, everyday.