I understand from a recent report in the Boston Globe that Joe Woodin has been fired by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. I worked for Joe Woodin at the Gifford Hospital in Randolph, Vt., from 2006 until 2012, when I retired. I doubt you will find that his firing will solve any problems or that he was the problem.

The staff at the Gifford was the most collegial of any of the several hospitals where I worked. I think this collegiality was a consequence of both the Gifford’s history (it had been founded because Dr. John Gifford, a local boy — the son of an East Randolph, Vt., farmer— thought that a hospital would be good for the community) and Joe’s skill and style of management, which were perfect for a hospital with those origins. Here is an example of his skill: even though the Gifford was a small Critical Access Hospital, he managed to acquire a state of the art CT scanner for it; no small accomplishment those days in the face of state and federal bureaucratic cost controls. And he kept the hospital in the black without outsourcing hospital jobs with their benefits, jobs such as those in food service, because those jobs were important to the economic health of the community. This is in contrast to hospitals where I worked that had CEOs who were indifferent to that contribution to community health and used outside service providers who paid minimum wages and provided no benefits; CEOs for whom the bottom line was more important than people and the community.

The fact that Joe paid attention to both the bottom line at Gifford and also to its people speaks to his style; he was unique among the administrators that I worked for, in his support of his staff in the face of complaint, when that support was justified. He was also unique in his ambition, which was to manage the hospital to meet the community’s needs and not to build a resume so he could move on to a larger hospital and larger salary. The length of his tenure as CEO at the Gifford (17 years) speaks to his “community first” integrity. From the Boston Globe story I suspect that some ego on, or politically close to, the board has been bruised by one of Joe’s decisions about a volunteer, an employee, or a vendor, when he placed the hospital’s needs before the desires of that ego. It sounds like that ego has followed Charlie Wilson’s Law (What is good for General Motors [me] is good for the country) and has engineered Joe’s dismissal.

Dr. Wendell Smith