El Paso Children's Hospital CEO to step down to be closer to family

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso Children's Hospital CEO Ray Dziesinski is stepping down from his position to be closer to his family, hospital spokeswoman Susie Byrd told ABC-7.

He will be stepping down in 30 to 45 days.

Dziesinski was was initially hired by Children's to be its chief financial officer but in mid-April was named its chief executive officer when Larry Duncan suddenly resigned.

Since being named CEO, Dziesinski has been working on solving the hospital's financial issues, including owing University Medical Center $70 million - a number Children's Hospital disputes.

Sam Legate, Children's chairman of the board, told ABC-7 that Dziesinski will continue to be CEO for 30 days and then he will be willing to come in and out for another six weeks after that.

"We have a lot of things going good," Legate told ABC-7. "Finally, to a large extent we are fixing things with UMC.  (It's) going in the right direction finally."

Asked if Dziesinski's resignation was a setback, Legate said maybe, maybe not.

"We're not excited about it," Legate said.

Legate said Dziesinski was not forced out and that he feels really bad because he came here and intended to fix things and he's done a great job.

"We are in a so much better place than we were five months ago," Legate said.

As for what's next, Legate said finding a strategic partner – there are three or four Children's is talking to – but the hospital wants it to remain locally owned and the revenue locally centered.

Also up next is a search for an interim CEO. 

"So that we can either engage in a long term search or engage in the partner," Legate said. "We're going to engage in a search for an interim CEO ... We're going to look locally first. then for a long term solution to our problems."

Byrd says negotiations are "very positive" and both Children's and UMC are committed to resolving the issue.

In a story published and broadcast Thursday, ABC-7 obtained a personal document, prepared by UMC Board Chair Bill Hanson, regarding a plan for Children's to repay UMC tens of millions of dollars for rent and services.

Children's Board Chair Sam Legate told ABC-7 over the phone Thursday that negotiation terms are now substantially different from Hanson's personal notes. Hanson told ABC-7 on Thursday the notes are about a week old and were never approved by the UMC board. He couldn't confirm which details from his notes were carried into board discussions, but he did say one recurring theme from his notes is particularly important.

On four separate occasions, Hanson notes a condition where Children's publicly acknowledge the terms of the final agreement. One point asked that Children's issue a statement confirming the full debt balance -- Children's says it owes UMC about half of the $70 million figure used by UMC. The notes also suggest that the debt be extended over 15 years, that there be no reductions in the balance due, that the interest rate be set at a market rate, and that no payments be due for one full year.

"There could have been some discussions that talked about the same categories as what appear on this document," Hanson said. "But again, the document that's being shared between the two organizations is a separate document that was developed by our two boards in separate meetings, and has been shared between the negotiating teams of both organizations, and it's not this document."

Hanson said that he was meeting with Legate shortly after ABC-7 spoke to him Thursday, and that the UMC and Children's negotiation teams would be meeting at 5 p.m.

"I feel good that we are getting closer to an arrangement that will help to ensure that pediatric services are uninterrupted in the community," Hanson said. "And that we continue to have a strong, viable Children's Hospital, as well as a strong, viable University Medical Center. That's the objective."

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