MACHIAS, Maine — Doug Jones, who led Down East Community Hospital through a turbulent period, has resigned his position as chief executive officer.
Jones was named interim CEO after the state placed the hospital into receivership in 2009 and under the emergency control of the Brewer-based Eastern Maine Health System. At the time, he had just retired as CEO of Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth.
Jones later agreed to stay on as CEO once the hospital’s receivership with EMHS ended.
“I am proud that I have accomplished what I set out to do when I first came to DECH in the summer of 2009 to see DECH safely through the receivership and to set it on a course for future success,” Jones said in a brief statement issued by the hospital Tuesday night. “Although I am unsure what the next chapter in my life holds for me, I am looking forward to taking some time off to consider that and to spend more time with my family and friends.”
Jones’ resignation was effective immediately, according to hospital spokeswoman Julie Hixon. The hospital’s governing board has begun a search for an interim chief executive officer, she said Wednesday morning.
When reached by phone Wednesday and asked why he resigned so abruptly, Jones replied, “I don’t know as it was abrupt. … I gave the hospital five good years.”
Jones reiterated he wants to spend more time with his family.
“I’m not going to answer any detailed questions about what went on with me and the board,” Jones said.
Eric Burke, chairman of the board of trustees, also declined comment.
The hospital was under the emergency control of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems for more than two years. Justice Robert Murray, sitting in Kennebec County Superior Court, confirmed in October 2011 the receivership had been successfully concluded, and DECH was back in control of its own operations.
DECH previously had been plagued by a lack of community confidence and state violations, which peaked with the death of a patient in January 2008.
That patient, Reid Emery, 61, of Eastport, was still heavily drugged when he checked out of the hospital against doctors’ wishes on a cold, snowy evening. He was found dead the next day in a nearby snowbank.
An investigation into Emery’s death by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found, among a number of other deficiencies, hospital staff had failed to meet the safety needs of the patient.
After a number of investigations into clinical and administrative complaints, the state placed the hospital in receivership in July 2009, with EMHS taking over operations. Officials immediately went to work to correct deficiencies that could have affected the hospital’s Medicare and Medicaid provider status.