Fairview Board Won’t Renew CEO Mark Eustis’ Contract

Fairview’s chief executive Mark Eustis will retire on July 31 when his five-year contract expires, and Chairman Chuck Mooty will take the reins as interim CEO.

During a special meeting on Wednesday, Fairview Health Services’ board of directors voted not to renew the contract of CEO Mark Eustis.

Fairview said in a statement that Eustis, who joined Fairview in 2007, will retire on July 31 when his five-year contract expires.

Fairview’s board has appointed Chairman Chuck Mooty—former CEO of International Dairy Queen and current CEO of Faribault Woolen Mills—as Fairview’s interim CEO, effective August 1.

A company spokeswoman on Thursday declined to discuss why the company elected not to extend Eustis’ contract. But his retirement comes in the wake of a controversy involving Chicago-based Accretive Health, LLC, which has been accused of using overly aggressive and sometimes illegal methods of collecting funds from Fairview patients.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson in January sued Accretive, accusing the company of violating privacy laws after an Accretive corporate laptop containing data for roughly 23,000 Fairview and North Memorial Health Care patients was stolen. Then, in April, Swanson issued a scathing six-volume report criticizing Accretive for allegedly introducing major changes to the culture of Fairview’s hospitals and using heavy-handed debt-collection practices.

Accretive subsequently requested that Swanson’s lawsuit be thrown out and has aggressively defended itself, saying that “the inaccuracies, innuendo, and unfounded speculation that have been part of the Minnesota attorney general’s recent allegations are extensive.”

U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota also sought information from Accretive regarding the allegations, and the debt-collection firm recently released a 29-page report denying wrongdoing and insisting that it followed industry standards.

Despite intervention from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has defended Accretive and asked that Swanson and the company attempt to resolve the matter privately, Swanson earlier this month vowed to press on with her investigation.

Fairview in late April cut all ties with Accretive. According to reports by the Star Tribune, Eustis was instrumental in hiring the debt-collection firm, and both he and another Fairview official have sons who work for the firm.

Fairview said in its Thursday statement that Eustis led a transformation of the health system’s care delivery and business model to improve clinical outcomes, enhance patient experience, and reduce the cost of care, among other accomplishments. The Star Tribune described Eustis as “a champion of health care reform.”

Fairview’s board is immediately launching its search for a successor and will seek out a “dynamic, proven executive to lead Fairview’s highly skilled and committed leadership team and its mission-driven employees and providers, and to continue to elevate Fairview’s leadership position in the national health care community,” Mooty said in a statement.

Fairview owns seven hospitals, operates more than 40 clinics, and employs more than 22,000 people in Minnesota.