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Diane Beattie steps down amid controversy

LONDON, Ont. – Diane Beattie (pictured), integrated vice president and CIO at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care (SJHC), resigned from her position earlier this month after it was disclosed that she had awarded IT contracts without tendering to a one-time fellow employee with Union Gas.

According to an audit report that was leaked to the local London Free Press, since 2004 a total of $3.3 million in contracts was given to the Atwood Group and its owner, Tom Vlasic, without competitive bidding.

The disclosure and publication of articles in the London Free Press sparked public controversy in the southwest Ontario city, and the issue was also raised by politicians in the provincial legislature.

“It is now clear that the current circumstances compromise Diane’s ability to continue to lead in this capacity, which is necessary for the priority patient care initiatives vital to the future of healthcare in our region,” said a joint statement issued by Robert Siskind, LHSC chair, and Gerald Killan, SJHC chair.

With an annual salary of approximately $260,000, Beattie is set to receive a severance package worth $451,000.

The hospital boards credited Beattie with playing an important role in establishing the region as a leader in patient care systems, and thanked her for her contributions.

“Diane agrees this step is in the best interest of the hospitals and our community, and concluded that she could not continue in this role. With this shared understanding, she will support the smooth transition of leadership,” the joint statement said.

CEO Cliff Nordal, who has previously admitted the rules were not followed on awarding an electronic health records contract, has said the contract will be terminated but not until October.

Locally, both board chairs said the situation has been a difficult one for many, including staff, physicians and the community.

Kelly Butt, who was chairperson of the LHSC board when Beattie was vice-chairperson, said that “Diane is a person of honesty and high integrity.” She asserted that Beattie did nothing other smart business leaders don’t do all the time – choose a consultant known for expertise in a certain area for a competitive, yet reasonable fee.

Posted October 8, 2009