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Financial officer leaving Barton Hospital

Christina Proctor

Chief Financial Officer Margaret Lera announced her resignation from Barton Memorial Hospital Wednesday after eight years in the position.

Lera cited personal career growth as her reason for leaving the hospital.

“Working at Barton Memorial Hospital has been a very wonderful and exciting opportunity for me,” Lera said. “Barton is a great organization and has really accomplished a lot of positive things for the community in terms of health care. I personally felt it was time to take on new challenges.”

Lera said she has been offered a job as chief operating officer of Olympic Health Management Systems, a health care consulting and insurance claims administration company located in Bellingham, Wash. Her resignation is effective March 15.

Barton’s Chief Executive Officer William Gordon said he has already interviewed an internal candidate to fill Lera’s vacancy. Gordon said if that candidate is not chosen, the hospital will advertise the position.

Gordon praised Lera’s work, adding that during her watch the hospital has turned at least $1 million profit every year and as high as $3 million. However, Gordon confirmed that the hospital’s annual audit had never been adjusted by an outside firm.

“The board saw the financial data and they knew it was accurate and detailed,” Gordon said. “Margaret is a legacy to Barton and her position will be tough to fill.”

Lera graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor of science degree in 1968 and has been working in the health care industry since 1973. Before coming to Barton, Lera was a chief financial officer at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bellingham, where she also worked under Gordon.

Dr. Bruce Daugherty, a member of the hospital’s board of directors, echoed Gordon’s sentiments about Lera’s performance.

“From a reliability standpoint Lera was very good at projecting expenditures and revenues and keeping the budget in line,” Daugherty said. “The hospital is doing well. It’s a tough environment for all hospitals these days. But, in a comparison with other Northern California and Nevada hospitals Barton is doing well.”

Gordon’s contract is up for renewal this year, but, unlike Lera, he said is not currently looking for a new position, but didn’t rule out the possibility in the future.

“There are always opportunities and as of Feb. 1, I will be in the business 30 years. You get to know a lot of people in that time,” Gordon said.

Lera leaves at a time when the hospital is under scrutiny – specifically due to a lawsuit brought by Carson Valley Medical Group. CVMG alleges that officials at the hospital, including Gordon, deliberately attempted to undermine their practice. The medical group accuses the hospital and Gordon of racketeering, trade libel and 11 other violations of state or federal law.

Lera, who has already given her deposition for the case, will probably be called to testify at the trial set for Feb. 24 in El Dorado Superior Court.

Attorneys for CVMG said they had offered Barton an “offer to compromise” settlement last month that demanded around $2 million from Barton. Gordon said the offer was rejected by the hospital’s board of directors.

– Staff Writer Greg Risling contributed to this story

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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