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Amid union efforts, ChristianaCare parts ways with two execs

Katie Tabeling
ChristianaCare has parted ways with two executives who oversee its primary-care physician and specialty-care practices.

ChristianaCare Medical Group President Lisa Maxwell and Chief Medical Officer Roger Kerzner have “left the organization.” | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

WILMINGTON — Amid recent unionization efforts, ChristianaCare has parted ways with two executives who oversee the primary-care physician and specialty-care practices across its network that spans three states.

ChristianaCare officials confirmed to the Delaware Business Times that ChristianaCare Medical Group President Lisa Maxwell and Chief Medical Officer Roger Kerzner have “left the organization.” The decision was made as the organization “grows and evolves to meet the health needs of the communities we serve,” officials said in a prepared statement.

Kert Anzilotti, the ChristianaCare System Chief Medical Officer, will serve as interim president at this time. The medical group oversees primary care doctors and specialty care practices, managing the hundreds of doctors, nurse practitioners and other caregivers as well as electronic health record systems.

ChristianaCare officials declined an interview with the Delaware Business Times on the recent leadership changes.

ChristianaCare is Delaware’s largest health care system and is the largest employer in the state outside the state government, according to Delaware Business Times records. In the last five years, the health care system has expanded its network to Maryland by acquiring Union Hospital in neighboring Cecil County, Md. and has plans to open “micro-hospitals” in adjoining counties in Pennsylvania.

With more than 13,000 employees, the health care system has also steadily worked on expanding its network of doctors offices in the region as other competitors like Bayhealth and Beebe Healthcare have been targeting Sussex County in recent years.

In 2013, ChristianaCare expanded in Middletown with medical offices, doctor offices and an emergency department. Its acquisition of Union Hospital in Maryland also brought on opportunities to open more offices and services there.

In the past three years, ChristianaCare has since acquired primary care offices in Hockessin and two that used to be run by Tower Health in Jennersville and West Grove. The organization also opened primary care services in Rehoboth Beach and Milford.

But despite the growth, ChristianaCare and other health care institutions in Delaware have struggled with burn-out and a workforce shortage triggered in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the early years of the pandemic, many hospitals had to rely on contract workers that also drove up expenses; officials have worked hard to find ways to train and retain rising talent.

Two weeks ago, more than 60% of the estimated 400 doctors who work at ChristianaCare’s Wilmington and Christiana campuses as well as the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and the Middletown emergency care center signed cards to authorize an election to unionize. The story was first reported by WHYY.

If ChristianaCare’s employees are successful in joining the Doctors Council Service Employees International Union, it would be the first in the First State.

The day Maxwell and Kerzner parted ways with ChristianaCare, ChristianaCare President and CEO Janice Nevin wrote a letter to patients where she reaffirmed the organization’s quality of care and its commitment to the future. She outlined future plans for residencies, fellowships and career exposure opportunities for middle and high school students, as well as the continuing partnership with the Sydney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

This commitment to care is why ChristianaCare is continually recognized among the best health systems in the United States,” Nevin wrote in the email to patients. “It is our privilege to serve you — to meet your needs and to be bold, curious and collaborative as we continue to design new health care that is safe, effective, equitable and affordable, and exceeds your expectations.”

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