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Armond Budish’s pick for MetroHealth board rejected by Cuyahoga County committee

October 2, 2018

Armond Budish’s pick for MetroHealth board rejected by Cuyahoga County committee

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A Cuyahoga County Council committee recommended Tuesday that council reject County Executive Armond Budish’s pick for the MetroHealth board of trustees because the nominee had worked as an executive with the Cleveland Clinic, a MetroHealth competitor.

The Human Resources Committee voted 5-0 not to support the nomination of Fred DeGrandis after a round of questioning that centered on DeGrandis’ 12 years at various Cleveland Clinic positions and his current membership on the Cleveland Clinic Foundation board.

Board members are appointed by the county executive and are subject to confirmation by County Council, which must act within 60 days of the nomination. If council does nothing, appointments are automatically approved.

The council vote on DeGrandis could happen as early as next week.

Contacted by cleveland.com after the vote, Budish expressed disappointment in the committee’s decision not to support DeGrandis.

“I was aware that he had worked for the Clinic at one time, but I had great confidence he would be a great asset to the Metro board,” Budish said. “He has a great background in health care. He has run hospitals.”

There are 10 members on the publicly supported MetroHealth board and each serves for six years. DeGrandis is being considered to fill the position left open by the departure of Rev. Tony Minor.

During Tuesday’s hearing, council members Shontel Brown, Pernel Jones Jr. and Michael Gallagher zeroed in on the possible conflicts that could come with a long-time Cleveland Clinic executive serving on the MetroHealth board.

DeGrandis said his broad health-care experience — including his time at the Clinic, as well as prior employment at Lakewood and St. John hospitals — would make him a good fit for MetroHealth.

Jones asked DeGrandis how he could simply “turn off” the Clinic knowledge he already has.

DeGrandis said he did not see difficulty in switching allegiances from the Clinic to MetroHealth, noting that his position on the Clinic board was unpaid. He said he could recuse himself if any conflicts were to arise. He also said hospital strategy secrets are often known throughout the industry, so he questioned the notion that his appointment might mean revealing or misusing sensitive information.

“With you, I don’t see the fit — I see a concern.” Gallagher said. “I don’t want a part-time member...I want someone that can walk into a room and look at an agenda and not worry about concerns of recusal.”

Gallagher said his concerns were also amplified by the recent passage of House Bill 111, which allows MetroHealth to expand outside Cuyahoga County for the first time in its 181-year history as the county’s safety net hospital. The law means MetroHealth will now be competing with the Clinic and University Hospitals throughout the region.

Council members likened the situation to another Clinic-related appointment conflict. In 2012, then-County Executive Ed Fitzgerald nominated Samuel Huston to the MetroHealth board. But council rejected that nomination, citing the potential for conflicts or the appearance of conflicts because Huston’s wife was chief strategy officer at the Clinic.

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