Chase Brexton CEO leaving his position
Discord during summer led to unionization of staff
Richard Larison will step down as CEO of Chase Brexton Health Care at the end of the year. He said Tuesday that he would not renew his contract.
His departure follows the recent acrimony between the community health care provider and its employees, which culminated in the unionization of its workforce.
“While this was a considerably difficult decision, I believe ending my tenure at Chase Brexton will allow the organization to move forward,” Larison said in a statement. “Chase Brexton’s mission must come above all else, and it is my hope that this change will allow the organization to regain its focus and continue to provide exceptional patient care for our underserved communities.”
Larison came to Chase Brexton in 2012 from Johns Hopkins Medicine International, where he served as CEO for Hospital Punta Pacifica in Panama City, Panama. He was brought in to help ensure the long-term viability of the system, which was launched in 1978 to serve gay men.
Chase Brexton has since expanded with clinics throughout the Baltimore area that serve a wider population that includes transgender, bisexual and Medicaid patients.
The system, which has its headquarters in Mount Vernon, reported that it served 26,143 patients across five centers last year.
Larison’s announcement surprised workers, who expect to begin collective bargaining for their first contract with management today. The workers voted overwhelmingly to unionize in August.
Workers complained of longer workdays, heavier workloads and reduced training, and said they wanted more say in decisions. Chase Brexton said they did not need to unionize.
Each side complained that the other’s actions during the process to unionize were unfair. The discord led lawmakers from Baltimore’s General Assembly delegation to write a letter to Chase Brexton leadership expressing concern for the health system’s vulnerable patients.
Del. Mary Washington said Larison’s departure would allow the board of directors to “rededicate itself to the mission” of Chase Brexton.
“The community rose up this summer, and it’s a sign when people organize to express concern about quality health care and the direction of a community-based health system, their voices are heard,” Washington said.
Lawmakers, workers and patients were upset by the firing of five longtime staff members.
The staffers were told that management had lost faith in their leadership, but the fired workers and those still employed by Chase Brexton saw the terminations as a move to intimidate other workers before the union vote.
“We hope this will be an opportunity for Chase Brexton to really follow through on its mission and hire leadership that is really reflective of the care they say they want to give patients, and the respect they want for workers,” said Rae Dunnaville, a spokesperson for the workers’ union, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
Larison’s last day will be Dec. 31. He is to serve in an advisory role while the Chase Brexton board searches for his replacement. Joseph Lavelle, serving as interim president of operations, will help run day-to-day operations.
Carolyn Kennedy, the president of the board, thanked Larison “for his contributions as CEO.”