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Good Shepherd ousts CEO to 'go in another direction'

Sept. 29, 2012 at 10 p.m.

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A decision "to go in another direction" is behind Good Shepherd Medical Center's sudden dismissal of Ed Banos, who had been president and chief executive officer since 2008.

Banos was ousted late Wednesday in what he said was a surprise move by the hospital's board of directors.

"Anytime a person gets terminated, I think they're shocked," Banos said Thursday. "I'm shocked."

Executive Vice President Ken Cunningham was named interim CEO to guide the hospital while the board begins a nationwide search for a replacement.

"Ed's done a great job, but the board decided to go in another direction," Cunningham said. He declined to say what that direction might be or much else about the board's action.

Banos declined to elaborate on possible reasons for his termination and said the board had given none.

"There's a clause in my contract they can use (to terminate without cause), and they used it," he said.

Banos was told he had been terminated in a late Wednesday afternoon meeting with Buck Birdsong, chairman of the board, and a couple of physicians.

"Ed has achieved many great accomplishments while serving as Good Shepherd's leader," Birdsong said Thursday in a prepared statement. "We wish him luck and much success in his future endeavors."

During his four-and-a-half year tenure, Banos was instrumental in bringing about many positive changes in the organization, Birdsong said.

Among the noteworthy accomplishments he highlighted was Banos' vision that aligned Good Shepherd with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler to establish a new internal medicine residency program that began in July. Birdsong also pointed to Good Shepherd's affiliation with the University of North Texas.

Banos also was a driving force in the expansion of physician services, development of shared governance among nurses and realignment of a system leadership structure, Birdsong said.

In May, Banos announced plans for a major expansion of the hospital in northern Longview, a $20 million facility that will house a new emergency center, comprehensive outpatient diagnostic testing center and physician medical offices. The hospital is expected to break ground on the project later this year.

The Good Shepherd system also has continued to expand its presence across East Texas under Banos' leadership, most recently with the opening of an emergency room facility in Kilgore. The hospital also has locations in Marshall, Henderson, Jefferson, Linden, Hughes Springs, Hallsville, White Oak, Gladewater and Gilmer.

With about 3,000 employees, Good Shepherd is the largest employer in Gregg County.

Banos also was at the forefront of a lengthy legal battle with Longview Regional Medical Center, which attempted to bid on Good Shepherd's lease agreement for county-owned assets used by the hospital. The longstanding agreement is the reason many Longview residents consider Good Shepherd "the county hospital." It is not county owned.

Birdsong said Cunningham, in the interim CEO's role, would serve as a liaison between the organization and the board.

"A national search for a new president and chief executive officer will be conducted to identify someone with the vision to lead the organization far into the future," Birdsong said. "This search will seek input and advice from a wide array of employees, physicians, board members and community leaders as candidates move through the selection process."

Banos took over the medical center's leadership role after the death of former President and CEO Jerry Adair. Before joining Good Shepherd in 2008, Banos had been chief operating officer of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Banos said he would be starting a job search soon.

"I'm 47 and have a great work ethic," he said. "Someone out there will be able to use my talents."

Banos said there was no truth to recent rumors he had been looking for a new job, and that he denied those rumors to hospital employees in a Sept. 4 meeting.

Despite the turn of events, Banos said he holds no grudge.

"I have no ill will toward the board - they're a great board - they just have to move on," he said. "I'm proud of everything that's been done here in Longview to better serve patients."

Serving the medical needs of East Texans, Banos said, has been the basis of all his decisions leading the hospital system.

"We never lost focus on our patients," he said. "Here, I've gone to bed every night knowing that every patient was taken care of regardless of their ability to pay."

Banos said he plans to remain in the area while he sorts through options and considers future opportunities.

"I'm part of the Longview community and plan to do what I can to make things better while I'm still here," he said.

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