Bon Secours Health System has announced the resignation of John L. Fitzgerald, who has overseen the rapidly growing system as its chief executive officer since 1989.
Edward Boyer, senior vice president of corporate services for the health system, said Fitzgerald and the board of directors disagreed about the pace of -- but not the need for -- future growth. Christopher M. Carney, a regional vice president, was named acting CEO.
Fitzgerald "wanted to take a quantum leap for the next step, while others wanted to be more incremental," Boyer said.
Fitzgerald could not be reached.
The resignation, which Boyer described as amicable, will mean a change in leadership at one of the largest -- and quietest -- Maryland-based health companies.
With headquarters in Marriottsville, on the grounds of the chapter house and retreat center for the Congregation of Bon Secours nuns, the system has 11 acute-care hospitals from Michigan to Florida, and is adding four more in the next month, including Baltimore's Liberty Medical Center, which is merging with West Baltimore's Bon Secours Hospital. It also has half a dozen nursing homes, including one in Ellicott City that is for sale, and other health-related enterprises.
It now has about 13,500 employees -- about 60 in Marriottsville -- that will grow to 17,000 when it closes on its new acquisitions, Boyer said. Annual revenues are about a billion dollars.
All this grew from a base in Baltimore, where the Bon Secours sisters came from France in 1881 at the invitation of Baltimore's Cardinal James Gibbons, to nurse the sick in their homes. The sisters opened Bon Secours Hospital in 1919 on West Baltimore Street.
The nonprofit Bon Secours Health System was founded in 1983. Most of the growth came in the past few years; there were only six hospitals in the system as recently as 1993.
As health has become big business, Catholic institutions have not been immune.
According to a listing in May in the trade journal Modern Healthcare, of 27 multihospital health-care systems with more than a billion dollars in 1995 revenue, 14 are Catholic. There are 57 multihospital Catholic systems, owning or managing 488 hospitals, according to the American Hospital Association.
Boyer said Bon Secours wants to continue to grow because "at some point, you have to be a player to make a difference."
Also, he continued, Bon Secours' drive to consolidate and grow is related to the forces that have caused consolidations of secular hospitals: the growth of managed-care insurers.
Joining into larger systems also gives Catholic hospitals access to needed capital, said Sister Rosemary Donley, S.C., executive vice president of the Catholic University of America in Washington.
In addition, she said, with fewer nuns now available to staff hospitals, a Catholic health system can develop staff with the values of the institution. "It's very easy to find people who can reduce your bottom line, but how do you find a person to express in modern language and modern action the ideals that drove the Sisters of Bon Secours 100 years ago?" she said.
Pub Date: 10/01/96