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Hospital CEO, Leaders Booted in Quiet Shake-Up

Saint John's Health Center of Santa Monica tells employees and volunteer staff that replacing two top administrators and most of its board of directors will help improve the hospital's financial future.

The top leaders of Saint John's Health Center were quietly and abruptly let go Thursday amid a major shake-up of the hospital's leadership that also included ousting a majority of the board of directors.

Chief Executive Officer Lou Lazatin and Chief Operating Officer Eleanor Ramirez were fired and replaced by acting CEO Mike Wall and new COO Ken Meehan.

The sudden reorganization was announced only to employees and volunteers via an internal email from Michael A. Slubowski, the CEO of Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, the Catholic-based nonprofit that operates St. John's.

In the email, Slubowski said the new administrators will work to improve the hospital's "financial viability" and "long-term sustainability." 

"We are working currently at an operational loss. We have a positive cash flow," said Sarah Phelan, a hospital spokeswoman. She would not confirm reports that the ousted CEO was escorted off the hospital premises Thursday.

The Los Angeles Times reported the local hospital has lost money in the past few years, posting a $21.9 million loss in 2010 and $12.8 million in 2011, according to state records.

"In light of the challenging health care system and an increasingly competitive landscape in southern California," Slubowski wrote, "certain leadership changes at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica are in the best interests of the organization and the local community."

Lazatin, who previously worked numerous stints as the top administrator at a handful of smaller Southern California area hospitals, was CEO of Saint John's Health Center since 2005. She was replaced by Wall. Now the acting CEO at St. John's, Wall most recently was chief executive officer of Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

Meehan, most recently the executive vice president of hospital operations for John Muir Health in Walnut Creek, replaced Ramirez, Saint John's COO and executive vice president. A new senior financial administrator, Patrick Lash, was also appointed to the hospital's new leadership team.

Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong told the Times that Lazatin "was fired and escorted out of the building Thursday and that hospital board members were then fired by email."

While there were 17 members on the board in 2011 and 2012, according to the hospital's website, there are now five. Of the five, three are new and all hail from Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. Slubowski, one of the two remaining board members, said he would seek out local leaders in the Santa Monica community to fill the remaining vacant seats.

"Making these decisions was extremely difficult and involved a significant amount of prayer and discussion," Slubowski wrote.

The vision for the hopsital's future is to align with local partners to improve access to health and wellness services in Santa Monica and nearby communities, he wrote in the email.

"We wish to maintain Saint John's as a Catholic ministry, with special concern for those who are poor and vulnerable," he said.

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Eddie Greenberg December 02, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Who is Saint John's kidding? Whatever they have going on internally is their business. When they talk about helping the poor and the vulnerable that is simply not true! Their door is not open to people like that and has not been in a very long time. I had occasion to stay there for 10 days and I have no complaint about the competence or of the service. However I was interrogated endlessly by admissions to make sure that I was insured.Friends that were on MEDICAL were refused service of any kind. They would do well to cut the spin!
Guadalalupe Padilla December 02, 2012 at 05:33 AM
They also need to get rid of the non qualify so called (directors) such a respiratory and many others. They need to bring the money back and keep the employees happy, I have been in. Management for such a long time and all I can say is a happy employee is a productive employee. I can come and do a training to all admitting business office and the clinical staff as to how to reach a monthly goals, I did it to several hospitals and I can do it again....look into the so called directors that don't even have a bs, or ba degree and they are clueless.......
JD December 02, 2012 at 06:20 AM
The finance department is utter chaos and the hospital administrators don't know what they're doing. Let me tell you, run, run quick from this place. Go to Ucla or Cedar Sinai.
SantaMonicaNative December 02, 2012 at 10:07 AM
One of the biggest enemies St. John's has is it's own demented billing system. You go there and wait for them to send you a bill.you wait 6 or 7 months and you get a bill. a week later you get a notice you are being sent to collection. You call them and no one knows why the bill was so late but they are just about to send you to collection. The strangest billing system ever. They must tick off alot of people with their incompetence. Swear by the Hospital though, they are good and have a good staff. It broke my heart to see the earthquake destroy it. My mother was on the Women's committe to build the "new wing" it's been a big part of Santa Monica since 1944. People need to remember that as a Private hospital their only requirement for the indigent and uninsured is to make them stable enough to go to a Public Institution. This will likely change with Obamacare.
Sonja Telias January 30, 2013 at 06:29 PM
I have been trying to be in touch with the E.R> medical records dept. to get a copy of a discharge from Feb. 2012. Nothing but a run-around, and not very helpful.This involves an error made on the discharge summary which is now costing us in excess of $1000.00 because the ambulance company did not get paid. No way to get anyone to cooperate. ST VERY upsetting
MiMI April 03, 2013 at 10:06 PM
The best thing for Saint Johns Medical Center was to get rid of both Lou Lazatin and Eleanor Ramirez. Next, they need to get rid of Cymetrix, the company in charge of the billing department at SJH. Many are hired and have no billing experience including the managment company running the billing department. Cymetrix managment is incompetent, ghetto and uneducated. The staff has not had a raise in over eight years, due to the so called " Financial Crisis" that Lou Lazatin led staff to believe the hospital was in. But yet weekly lavishing parties were being held in the John Wayne Cancer Center. Nurses, Physicians and Allied Health staff work hard to provide the community with quality care. What is upsetting is the extra attention Celeberties and Donators where given.

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