Giuffre Medical Center Names A New Board And Chairman

Posted: May 26, 1988

Under pressure by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the James C. Giuffre Medical Center named a new 15-member board of directors yesterday, ousting Dr. James C. Giuffre and appointing Philadelphia businessman G. Fred DiBona as its chairman.

The ouster of Giuffre from the board appears to end his nearly 40 years of control of the North Philadelphia hospital, which has been cited by the state Health Department for serious lapses in the quality of patient care. The department had held Giuffre and the hospital's board responsible for the problems.

The new board, which includes three people who served on the previous board, was approved yesterday by the Health Department, which on May 12 shut down most of the hospital, located at Eighth Street and Girard Avenue.

"We commend the previous board for taking a very difficult action today, which is to replace themselves," said John W. Clem, the Health Department's deputy secretary for planning and quality assurance.

"We feel that with this significant action, together with the improvements that they already have been making in the medical care here, that the facility should be fully operational very soon," he said.

Clem said he expected the hospital's emer

gency room, which still remains closed, to reopen "in the near future," possibly today.

Giuffre, 75, who came to the hospital as a medical resident and in 1978 saw the facility - then called St. Luke's and Children's Medical Center - renamed in his honor, had offered to remain on the new board but was rejected by a selection committee, according to Al Zezulinski, a partner in Laventhol & Horwath, a consulting firm that helped pick the new board.

William L. Vazquez, the hospital's president, said Giuffre's role at the hospital would be determined by the new board. Giuffre, who still holds the honorary title of chief executive officer, lives in an apartment at the hospital.

The new board includes health-care specialists, community leaders, a judge and a political leader.

DiBona is president and chief executive officer of Keystone Health Plan East, Blue Shield's health-maintenance organization. He formerly served as president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

In an interview last night, DiBona said the new board would be more active than the old one in overseeing the hospital's operations and restoring its

financial well-being and its reputation in the community.

"I think if we can restore some confidence back into the community and I think if we work hard, work together, I think we can change (the hospital's negative) image and allow Giuffre to not only keep its doors open, but become an institution that warrants the pride of the community," DiBona said.

The other new board members are Vazquez; Carmen A. Bolden, executive director of Congreso de Latinos Unidos; Rodney D. Johnson, president of Fairmount Capital Advisers Inc.; the Rev. Ralph E. Blanks, pastor of Zoar United Methodist Church; Dr. Gerald H. Escovitz, vice dean of the Medical

College of Pennsylvania; William F. Haggett, vice president for administration and external affairs at Community College of Philadelphia; Reed Hamilton, a Center City attorney; Norman Loudenslager, treasurer of the Democratic City Committee; Common Pleas Court Judge Eugene E.J. Maier; Richard C. Maloumian, a rug dealer, and Deborah R. Parks, director of public relations at Cheyney University.

The three board members who were reappointed from the previous board are Frank Borrell, a mobile-home dealer; Daniel Corry, a retired executive at Sears Roebuck & Co., and Julius Tarsi Sr., a masonry contractor.

The hospital's previous board members had been heavily criticized by the state Health Department for ignoring complaints that "negligent and incompetent practices" were occurring at the hospital. A report by Laventhol & Horwath found that the board rarely met and took little interest in the hospital's declining financial state.

Peter D. Carlino, chairman of the old board, applauded the appointment of the new panel.

"This hospital must survive," he said yesterday. "It is important to the neighborhood and to the entire city."

Carlino also was rejected by the selection committee to serve on the new board, according to Zezulinski.

The Health Department found 124 deficiencies at the hospital, including 12 questionable deaths after surgery and 29 cases of unnecessary surgery.

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