The columnist, a Los Angeles freelancer, is a former Detroit News business reporter who blogs at Starkman Approved
By Eric Starkman
John Lewis, chair of Beaumont Health’s board of directors and the person most responsible for keeping controversial CEO John Fox in place, will vacate his chairmanship next month and will retire from the board at the end of the year.
Lewis will leave behind a battered hospital system besieged by disgruntled and demoralized medical staff and serious patient safety issues.
I’m confident in saying that news of Lewis’s departure, disclosed in a communique Thursday afternoon, delighted most of the medical staff at Beaumont’s flagship Royal Oak hospital and that few will feel even a tinge of gratitude for his service. It’s well known that Lewis is a staunch Fox loyalist and that about half the board members who wanted Fox axed were afraid to confront him.
Replacing Lewis as chairman will be Julie Fream, who is president and CEO of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and holds a chemical engineering degree from Michigan Tech and an MBA from Harvard. According to the communique, Fream has served as Beaumont’s vice chair since 2018.
Christopher Blake, president of a construction and design company in Grosse Pointe Farms that bears his name, will replace Fream as vice chair. He holds an accounting degree from Georgetown.
Lewis, a retired Comerica executive when it was based in Detroit, and Fream and Blake were among the founding board members when the Beaumont, Oakwood, and Botsford Health systems merged in 2014. The Beaumont communique said the board changes are a “normal governance leadership rotational process.”
Implosion Under Lewis
Beaumont’s flagship Royal Oak hospital has imploded under Lewis’ oversight with the exodus of more than a dozen surgeons, half the anesthesiology staff, about 100 physicians and nurse anesthetists, and countless nurses.
A survey of Beaumont doctors across the entire network last year revealed that a majority of them had no confidence in Fox, COO Carolyn Wilson, and Chief Medical Officer David Wood Jr. According to a local report, Lewis received so many complaints about Fox that he let it be known he wouldn’t read them anymore.
One of those complaints was from the co-heads of Beaumont’s cardiology department warning they had “serious concerns” about NorthStar Anesthesia, which took over Royal Oak’s anesthesiology functions January 1. Within three weeks of NorthStar taking over, a patient undergoing a routine colonoscopy died from intubation complications and another landed in the ICU for several days because of a pain medication overdose.
It’s not clear whether Fream and Blake are among the board members loyal to Fox. That said, Fream’s name was included in a Beaumont statement denying that Lewis had said he wouldn’t read complaints about Fox.
In a post on her LinkedIn page, Fream said she was “honored and humbled” to be named Beaumont’s next chair and called Beaumont “a true gem in our community.”
In the communique to staff, Fox was quoted as saying, "I’m confident Julie will be an effective and compassionate leader for Beaumont’s Board.”
If that's true, Fream's first official act will be to fire Fox, Wilson and Wood and other management cronies.
Beaumont hospitals received mixed quality ratings released earlier this month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which determine reimbursement rates. Only Beaumont Troy received a perfect five-star rating. Beaumont Royal Oak and Beaumont Grosse Pointe received four stars, Beaumont Dearborn received three stars, and Beaumont Taylor and Wayne received two stars.
In addition to Beaumont Troy, the only other southeastern Michigan hospitals to receive CMS five stars were the University of Michigan's teaching hospital, and the Saint Joseph hospitals in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
Reach Eric Starkman at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Beaumont employees and vendors are encouraged to reach out, with confidentiality assured.
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Columns by this writer:
- Beaumont Manager Moved To Sabotage Anesthetists’ Concerns About Critical Drug Pump Shortage
- Beaumont’s John Fox Set to Unload Historic Bloomfield Hills Estate
- Beaumont Nurse Anesthetists at Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe Vote Overwhelmingly to Unionize
- Beaumont Forces Suspension of Leader of Nurse Anesthetist Union Drive
- Andy Levin Goes After Amazon's Union Busting in Alabama, but Silent About Beaumont
- How Absurd. Newsweek Ranks 3 Beaumont Hospitals Among Best in U.S.
- One Down, Three to Go. Beaumont CFO John Kerndl Resigns
- Beaumont Nurse Anesthetists’ Union Drive Could Save Imploding Hospital from Further Demise
- Layoffs. Disgruntled Staff. So What? Beaumont’s John Fox Is Laughing All the Way to the Bank
- Beaumont Nurse Anesthetists Move to Unionize to Combat 'Unsafe' Staffing Conditions
- 'Avoid Beaumont Like the Plague,' Warns Podiatrist Who Underwent an Endoscopy at Royal Oak Hospital
- Metro Detroit Mourns Passing of 'Gentle Soul' Richard Curbelo
- Medical Examiner Conducted Autopsy of Beaumont Colonoscopy Patient After Concern Raised
- Remembering Richard Curbelo Who Died Undergoing Beaumont Colonoscopy
- Beaumont Hospital Staffers Horrified After Patient Dies During Routine Colonoscopy
- Ostriches On Beaumont Health's Board Belong at the Detroit Zoo
- Henry Ford's Wright Lassiter Puts Beaumont's John Fox to Shame
- Beaumont's Demise Assured as Board Ignores Calls for CEO's Firing
- Prominent Beaumont Cardiologist Calls Out CEO John Fox for Deception
- AG Nessel Reaffirms She's ‘Do Nothing Dana' on Healthcare
- Beaumont CEO Fox and COO Wilson Must Go – Now!
- Starkman: Prominent Beaumont Cardiologist Calls for Ouster of Corporate Leaders
- The Clueless ‘Generosity’ of Beaumont CEO John Fox
- Beaumont's Bonuses and the Sorry State of Michigan's Political Leadership
- The Controversial Company Beaumont CEO John Fox Keeps
- Beaumont Chief John Fox to Detroit-Area Children -- FU Too
- The Beaumont Health Superheroes Who Spoke Truth to Power
- The Discredited PR Spin of Beaumont Health CEO John Fox
- Beaumont and Advocate Aurora End Merger Discussions
- Prominent Beaumont Donor Calls for Firing of CEO John Fox and His Key Executives