July 28, 2007

KU Hospital Executive Got $1.8 Million Severance

By Julius A. Karash, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

Jul. 28--Irene Cumming received $1.8 million in severance pay after resigning as president and chief executive officer of the University of Kansas Hospital, the hospital reported Friday.

Cumming, who had led the hospital since 1996, received the money by check on July 1, the day after her last day there. The amount equaled three years of pay for Cumming, who resigned in March amid controversial talks about new teaching and research ties among KU Hospital, the closely related University of Kansas Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital.

The talks, which have gone on for more than a year, spotlighted tensions between Cumming and Barbara Atkinson, the executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center and executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Cumming had expressed concerns that new affiliations among the three entities could weaken KU Hospital's position as the primary teaching hospital for the KU School of Medicine in favor of St. Luke's, a key rival of KU Hospital.

Medical school and St. Luke's officials say new connections among the three organizations are needed to strengthen life sciences research in the area and to help Kansas City land a federally designated comprehensive cancer center.

Cumming is credited with leading the hospital during a period of growing patient volume, reviving its cardiology program, and revitalizing the balance sheet during the past nine years. She is now president and chief executive officer of the University HealthSystem Consortium, an Illinois-based cooperative of 97 academic medical centers and 153 affiliate hospitals.

Cumming could not be reached Friday for comment.

To reach Julius A. Karash, call 816-234-4918 or send e-mail to [email protected]


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