March 17, 2010

Hospital CEO cites factors in departure

JOSIE HUANG

— By

Staff Writer

Vincent Conti, president and CEO of Maine Medical Center, said Wednesday that he will leave his job in June because the hospital's trustees wanted to change the terms of his contract.

The issue was not driven by money, Conti said a day after his departure was made public by the trustees, but by ''organizational issues'' concerning his job.

''We have had extensive conversations and could not reach an agreement about changing some things that dated back, really, to the time I arrived 11 years ago,'' he said. ''I could not, and did not accept those changes.''

Conti said he felt compelled to mention the contract dispute, after it was left out of a five-sentence statement that the board released on Tuesday. He declined to say whether he was being fired or resigning, opting to use the word ''separation.''

A former board member and honorary trustee had spoken of friction between Maine Medical Center and its parent organization, MaineHealth, which includes smaller hospitals and physician practices around the state. But it was unclear whether those tensions played a role in a management shake-up, and Conti wouldn't comment on the issue.

Mark Harris, a Maine Med spokesman who is representing other hospital officials and the board, had no comment Wednesday about the circumstances of Conti's departure.

Maine Medical Center's chief operating officer, Richard Petersen, will take over for Conti when he leaves.

Conti said he understands that Petersen will assume the role permanently.

Asked to confirm whether the appointment will be permanent, Harris said he had no comment beyond the board's statement, which said Petersen will ''assume the responsibilities of the president and CEO at the medical center.''

Conti, 59, said he will stay in his job until mid-June, after which he will devote his time to his wife, with whom he lives in Cape Elizabeth, and their two grown sons. One is a graduate student in environmental services at Yale University, and the other works in public relations in Boston, Conti said. He said he does not have a job lined up.

''It's obviously very bittersweet to leave because I'm very proud of what's happened while I was here,'' Conti said. ''The staff at every level of this place has responded to the call for measurable excellence. That's what I'm most proud of.''

The hospital, Maine's largest, employs 5,700 people and has an annual operating budget of about $650 million, Conti said. Since Conti arrived on the job in March 1997, the hospital has grown rapidly.

Maine Med's Bramhall campus in Portland is undergoing an expansion that includes a new birthing center and emergency department.

Several years ago, the hospital built a research center on its Scarborough campus that is billed as the largest in northern New England.

Conti said that, of the hospital's recent accomplishments, he is most proud of a plan to create a medical school program with Tufts University that will center on rural medicine and primary care, specialities that he said Maine sorely needs.

Staff Writer Josie Huang can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

jhuang@pressherald.com

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