In somewhat of a surprise move, the Oak Valley Hospital District Board of Directors announced this week that CEO John Friel will be placed on administrative leave until the end of his contract in February 2012. Current Chief Financial Officer John McCormick will take over as interim CEO.
“We felt like we needed to move forward in the best interest of the district,” said board president Wendell Chun.
Friel’s annual performance evaluation was held during a closed session of the Wednesday, Oct. 26 Oak Valley Hospital District board meeting. The board reported out from closed session that Friel’s contract would be upheld, but he would be put on administrative leave for the remainder of his contract. Chun confirmed that terminating Friel’s contract was an option, but it included a 90 day buyout and other stipulations.
“We felt that administrative leave was the appropriate choice,” Chun said.
Board members would not comment on why the decision was made to replace Friel before the end of his contract term. The decision was announced in a press release that also named McCormick as interim CEO. The release said that the board had previously extended Friel’s contract through February 2012 with the anticipation that the new hospital project would be complete by that time.
“It has become apparent to the Board, however, that the next four months are critical to the hospital’s future,” the release indicated.
Friel is under contract with Oak Valley Hospital District until Feb. 28, 2012. He will continue to receive pay until that time. He will also be available to consult with the interim CEO for the remainder of his contract, said board members.
Friel said that there were no disciplinary actions taken against him, and the administrative leave is not a result of any wrongdoing. He said that he is very proud of his nine years of service for the Oak Valley Hospital District, and he wishes the district well in its future undertakings.
“We’ve accomplished a lot with a dedicated staff and a supportive community. I really do wish them the best,” Friel said.