Boettcher resigns as Fletcher Allen CEO

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(Host) The controversial top administrator at the state’s largest hospital has left his job. Trustees of Fletcher Allen Health Care announced Monday that William Boettcher resigned, six weeks after the Board placed him on paid leave.

The former CEO will not get severance pay. However, Boettcher will collect a $750,000 retirement package.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) William Boettcher was at the center of the controversy at the Burlington hospital. The hospital’s former chief financial officer says Boettcher ordered him to develop an elaborate financing scheme to keep a $55 million parking garage off the books and outside state regulatory review.

The hospital has already paid $320,000 to the state to settle the parking garage case. But after the new allegations broke, state and federal authorities launched separate investigations.

Hospital Trustee Chairman Philip Drumheller says Boettcher’s departure should help the institution rebuild trust with the community.

(Drumheller) “This is a new day. And the Board accepted that resignation because we felt it was time for new leadership at Fletcher Allen. So I feel Fletcher Allen is in position today to go forward and to work to repair the relationship with the community and to work with the employees at Fletcher Allen to continue to provide the best health care it can.”

(Dillon) Drumheller did not say why Boettcher resigned. The hospital released a statement from the former CEO that says he thinks the various investigations are likely to drag on for months. Boettcher said that it would be better for the institution if he left.

Boettcher will not get severance pay. But he is entitled to his retirement package, which totals $750,000 after four years of employment. In addition, for the past six weeks the hospital has paid for an office and administrative assistant for Boettcher. Those payments have stopped. But Drumheller says the institution will cover Boettcher’s legal bills if he faces civil or criminal charges stemming from the investigations.

The trustee chairman says he realizes that Boettcher’s retirement package is expensive. But he says the hospital is legally obligated to pay:

(Drumheller) “The executive retirement plan that’s in place is comparable to CEOs leading half-billion dollar organizations around the country, including integrated health care systems. It’s not an unusual retirement plan for a CEO. Yes, it is an awful lot of money. But it is comparable to what other CEOs of institutions of this size around the country get.”

(Dillon) The Board of Trustees is also taking a look at its own role in the parking garage case. The former financial officer who testified that Boettcher directed him to avoid state review says some hospital trustees, including Chairman Drumheller, were briefed on the financing plan. Drumheller says he doesn’t know where the investigation will lead.

(Drumheller) “To comment on that before the investigation is complete is premature. But I will say that the Board of Trustees acted with the sound business judgment of management and our counsel in that process. And if that turns out to be wrong, we want to understand that, so that we can learn from it in the future.”

(Dillon) Trustees say they’re cooperating completely with state and federal authorities. They say they’ve waived the hospital’s attorney-client privilege and have turned over thousands of documents to investigators. The trustees hope to finish their own report by the end of the year.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in South Burlington.

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