Naples Community Hospital to conduct nationwide search for new leadership

Patient rallies and doctors walking away all led up to the biggest change at Naples Community Hospital — two resignations that have left the health care agency without executive leaders. It all boiled down to the controversial doctor-patient policy that would have required NCH doctors take care of you within the hospital, but that policy is out.

NCH hospital staff said they will conduct a nationwide search to replace former CEO Allen Weiss, who resigned Wednesday.

“I said democracy won,” Dave Rusteen said. “The doctors have won, and the patients have won. This is traditional health care, with the relationship between the physician and the patient. It’s sacrosanct, and now it’s sacrosanct again.”‬

Rusteen believes NCH is trending in the right direction after unanimously accepting resignations from Weiss and Kevin Cooper, who resigned from chief of staff at NCH.

Some NCH doctors said the controversial policy upset a lot of people because it would not allow a patient to use their doctor during their hospital stay, but public outcry changed that.

“Going forward, what we would like to see is our whole community of nurses and doctors come together, recognize now that we are completely 100 percent for the hospital,” said Dr. Sajan Rao, chairman for department of medicine at NCH.

Naples Mayor Bill Barnet praised his community for joining together to achieve a common goal.

“The community was extremely upset to say the least,” Barnet said. “And I don’t think in all of my years here that I’ve ever seen a community as a whole be as upset over an issue as they were with this one.”

NCH staff said some of their fellow doctors submitted their letters of recommendation with the intent of not returning. With new leadership stepping down, the NCH hopes those doctors will reconsider.

“We have doctors that chose to leave or take alternative jobs,” Rao said. “We want them back, NCH is a fantastic hospital that delivers excellent health care.”

NCH doctors said they do want to collaborate with outside physicians to get the hospital back in good standing with patients.

“I personally like to see my patients in the hospital,” said Dr. Ronald Garry with Naples Premier Concierge. “But we should all be able to have a choice, both the physician and the patients in this.”

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