John Ferguson announces plan to exit hospital chairmanship
John Ferguson, a seasonal West Tisbury resident and chairman of the Martha's Vineyard Hospital (MVH) board, yesterday told The Times that he will relinquish the chairmanship in March next year, when the new building will be completed. Mr. Ferguson said he plans to remain on the MVH board.
Mr. Ferguson's announcement follows his resignation on May 29 as president and CEO of Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in New Jersey, effective July 1.
Mr. Ferguson's resignation from the hospital he led for 23 years followed the conviction of former New Jersey State Sen. Joseph Coniglio on six federal corruption charges stemming from his employment as a $5,000-a-month consultant for the hospital, during Mr. Ferguson's tenure as chief executive. Mr. Coniglio was convicted for using his political influence to steer millions of dollars in state grants toward HUMC while he was employed by the hospital, according to published reports in the Hackensack Chronicle. Mr. Ferguson was not charged with any wrongdoing and did not testify at the trial.
In a telephone interview from his office, Mr. Ferguson said there is no ongoing investigation and despite press coverage and innuendo to the contrary, his departure is linked to his long-standing plan to retire from HUMC after he reached 60, in January. "Those are the facts," he said, "and I am very happy."
Mr. Ferguson said he is retiring "from Hackensack, and not the world." He plans to remain in the field of health care and remain on the MVH board, but not as chairman.
The Island hospital has been a success story, Mr. Ferguson said, and a change in leadership is a good thing. "It is about the institution, it is not about me or anybody else," he said. "And I think sometimes it is good not to keep things the same year after year."
Yesterday, Tim Sweet, vice-chairman of the MVH trustees, said the board's governance committee has spoken with Mr. Ferguson and is reviewing the HUMC investigation. Mr. Sweet characterized the review as "due diligence" on the part of the board.
Mr. Ferguson is widely credited with transforming HUMC from a small regional hospital to a world-class medical institution with 775 beds, more than 7,200 employees and an annual budget of $1 billion.
Under Mr. Ferguson's leadership, the Vineyard hospital board embarked on a plan to rebuild the hospital and raised all of the $42 million needed to do it; created a staffing blueprint that expanded the number of physicians; finished successive years in the black; and affiliated MVH with Massachusetts General Hospital in a deal that made the hospital a member of the Partners HealthCare System, which includes some of Boston's premier medical institutions.