CEO fired in shakeup at Windsor's
WINDSOR, Ont. –
Earlier this month, Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital CEO Warren Chant
(pictured) was fired by the hospital’s provincially appointed
supervisor, the Windsor Star has reported. Ken Deane, who took control
of the hospital in January, said the decision to remove Chant was based
on impressions of how the hospital was run and feedback from staff and
While calling Chant “a sincere, considerate, principled person with high
integrity,” Deane said Hotel-Dieu is more likely to regain public
confidence and trust with a new CEO.
Deane was sent in by Health Minister Deb Matthews to fix long-standing
problems with the workplace culture at Hotel-Dieu and help the hospital
implement sweeping recommendations made last year in a ministry report
on surgical and pathology errors.
Two unnecessary mastectomies performed by Dr. Barbara Heartwell and the
resignation of pathologist Dr. Olive Williams after mistakes were
discovered in her work thrust Hotel-Dieu into the national spotlight and
prompted a ministry investigation, which ultimately highlighted cultural
issues at the hospital. With a focus on turning Hotel-Dieu around, Deane
said his first two months in Windsor convinced him change at the top was
“A CEO plays a vitally important role in the organization and in the
community,” he said. “I thought, given where we’re at, the hospital and
the community would be best served with a new leader.... Not every
leader meets everybody’s expectations.”
Deane’s decision was supported by Matthews, who said in a statement: “I
trust the supervisor to make the decisions necessary to help the
hospital keep moving forward with improvements. Ultimately, I know that
Ken Deane is acting in the best interest of Windsor patients.”
Under provincial legislation, a hospital supervisor assumes the
authority of the board of directors and has the power to remove the CEO.
In a written statement, Chant said he’s disappointed to be leaving, but
respects Deane’s decision.
“I have always wanted what was best for the staff, physicians and
volunteers at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital and the community it serves,”
Chant said. “It is my sincere belief that this hospital will continue to
provide excellent care and compassion to our patients and our families
for many years to come because of all the fine and professional people
“I am thankful for my successful career in serving the healthcare sector
for 34 years, the last 18 of which as CEO. I remain proud of the people
I have worked with and all that we have accomplished.”
Chant was hired as Hotel-Dieu CEO in the summer of 2009 following a
nationwide search. Prior to that, he was the CEO of Leamington District
Memorial Hospital and held senior management positions in other
hospitals, including Sick Kids in Toronto.
According to the report in the Windsor Star, sources told the newspaper
that while Chant’s resume and references were impressive, he fell short
of being the kind of leader Hotel-Dieu needed as it tried to deal with
one public relations fiasco after another last year. Chant also didn’t
know how to address conflicts among the hospital’s medical leaders,
administration and the board, sources said.
At one point, the hospital hired a professional management coach in an
effort to turn Chant into a more effective leader, but the coach quit in
frustration, The Star was told.
Chant was also singled out in a $3.3-million wrongful dismissal lawsuit
launched against the hospital by its former vice-president of
communications Kim Spirou after she was fired in December. In the suit,
Spirou alleged Chant pressured her to cover up wrongdoing at Hotel-Dieu.
The allegations have not been proven in court and it was not clear how
Chant’s dismissal will affect the legal proceedings.
Chant leaves Hotel-Dieu with an undisclosed severance package. He earned
$316,061.77 in 2009, according to the latest available public salary
disclosure list. He made roughly half of that at the Leamington
Chant’s departure is the first major shakeup since Deane’s appointment
as supervisor. The search for a new leader will not begin immediately
and Deane will not be appointing an interim CEO. Instead, Pat Somers,
Hotel-Dieu’s senior vice-president of patient services and chief nursing
executive, will take charge of day-to-day operations.
“I want the organization to settle for a bit,” Deane said, adding that
he’s not planning any other changes in senior administration.
In the meantime, Deane said he will forge ahead with “governance and
organizational renewal” at Hotel-Dieu, but he wouldn’t elaborate or say
whether that includes a new board of directors.
In late January, Deane turned the board members into his advisers, since
he is now effectively the board. Sources say he’s considering bringing
in a new board before the new CEO is hired and will also evaluate the
role of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, which founded Hotel-Dieu
more than 100 years ago. The Hospitallers stirred up controversy when
they suddenly removed Hotel-Dieu board chairman Egidio Sovran days
before Deane’s arrival in Windsor.
Posted March 24, 2011