LEAVE IF YOU MUST
After about six years in my dream job at Providence Hospital, I thought I had to leave. We’d had several very successful marketing campaigns to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our booming cardiovascular services and a major hospital renovation program that moved the main entrance to face a different street. Then suddenly (from my perspective) Pete told me the Board had approved a top marketing position. Their vision was to have someone who could strengthen the hospital’s ties to the temperamental heart doctors. Cocktail parties at country clubs, golf games were sure to have appeal. It seemed clear to me they were looking for a man to fill this new position. I decided it was useless for me to apply. Apparently I could stay on but no longer be department head—and I would report to the new staffer.
It seemed they already had someone in mind and after a few months, he joined the staff. He was pleasant, not interested in working hard, and had all the social connections they wanted. I gave him my office and got a desk for me set up in the only available spot—our elevator lobby. My peers were all terribly upset for me and thought it totally unfair. The new director was cordial but I soon realized he was someone I just couldn’t work with.
Dr. White was a wonderful otolaryngologist on the hospital staff that I’d gotten to know and respect. Years earlier he had come into my office while I was still in Medical Records and said he wished I could work for his practice as administrator. “We couldn’t pay you what you make here, though,” he sighed. I set up a meeting with him at their building across the street from the hospital and explained my new dilemma. He was excited at the prospect of having me work for his group and said he’d begin exploring it with his partners and their business consultant. It took several months before he could actually make me an offer and discuss the job I’d do there. Most of their staff members were longtime employees and they’d never had a practice administrator. He warned me there were a couple who would probably resent my coming and make things difficult. The job responsibilities sounded more like Medical Records than my dream job but I was desperate to make a change. I gave my notice and began planning the transition.
During my last week, the hospital gave me a big farewell party in the cafeteria. There was cake, punch, a corsage and entertainment. My co-worker Diane had found two sisters who did a poster painting of the honoree (from a photo) and wrote a long narrative poem to attach to it. They dressed in tuxedos and hats and sang the poem. It was really clever and in this photo I’m laughing at that performance—with tears rolling down my cheeks!
It was a lovely but bittersweet party and I felt loved and appreciated. This photo is with two of the women I’d worked with in Medical Records, Van and Jo. Pete was noticeably absent.
Almost 30 years later, when I was working in downtown Nashville, Pete contacted me and said he was taking his college age grandson on a musical tour through the South and Nashville would be one of their stops. We arranged to meet for dinner at Puckett’s and had a great visit. “You know, the work you and I did together was the best part of my entire career at Providence,” he said. He told me the whole idea of hiring the marketing guy had been pushed through by an aggressive new Board chairman. “The whole thing was a complete failure,” he said. “I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am that it happened.” Good to know—better late than never.