LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Healthcare District Board of Directors announced Friday that AV Hospital CEO Dennis Knox tendered his resignation citing little more than “personal reasons.”
Knox’s resignation was effective Thursday, according to the healthcare district’s press statement, which followed a closed-session executive board meeting on Wednesday.
No other decisions from the board regarding Knox’s status were made public following Wednesday’s closed-door meeting, which was described on the agenda as “personnel evaluations.”
Dr. Doddanna Krishna, chairman of the board of directors for AVHD, stated in the press announcement that “recruitment will begin shortly for a new CEO, and until that time Chief Operating Officer Jack Burke will fill the role on an interim basis.”
Krishna noted some of Knox’s accomplishments in the press release, most notably overseeing the opening of the Institute for Heart & Vascular Care, achieving certification as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center and Baby-Friendly facility and STEMI Receiving Center recertification, and securing $200,000 in grants from the UniHealth Foundation and the California Community Foundation, among other achievements.
“In a relatively short time as CEO, Dennis was able to have a significant impact on our hospital, and the community is much better off as a result,” Krishna stated.
Knox’s 20-month tenure also included a financial restructuring of hospital staff in September 2014, which resulted in about 105 employee layoffs.
In a September 2014 public information session, Knox said it was necessary to initiate layoffs at the time because the health care facility was “being looked at by Housing and Urban Development on how we’re going to right-size the hospital and prepare for the future.”
At the time, the hospital was applying to HUD to refinance its $130 million debt to qualify for the federal department’s refinancing program.
Also under Knox’s tenure, AV Hospital filed a claim on April 13, 2015, against Los Angeles County and its Board of Supervisors for failing to properly administer and allocate tens of millions of dollars of property tax revenue per Measure B to L.A. County trauma centers.
AV Hospital, which serves 5 percent of the County’s population, receives less than one-half of 1 percent of all Measure B funds annually, according to the hospital’s attorneys, McNicholas & McNicholas and The Sutton Law Firm.
With the lawsuit still pending, the hospital alleges the County failed to use Measure B funds to address the County’s most pressing trauma needs, while failing to fulfill the intent of Measure B to expand trauma services countywide.
With about 35 years of healthcare executive experience, Knox was appointed CEO in December 2013 to replace Edward Mirzabegian, who resigned.
When hired in 2013, Knox was responsible for establishing the strategic direction of and providing executive leadership for the overall operation of Antelope Valley Hospital, according to a 2013 press release.
Prior to his position at AV Hospital, Knox served as CEO of Western Medical Center Anaheim.
Antelope Valley Hospital is one of the largest employers in the community, employing about 2,400 personnel, and having 450 physicians on staff. The hospital admits about 13,000 patients each year.
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About the authorJim E. Winburn is freelance reporter covering news of public interest.