U.S. Bank Executives and Hospital CEOs: Corporatizing Our Healthcare

Minnesota-based multinational U.S. Bank is the fifth largest banking institution in the United States. U.S. Bank has direct ties to healthcare in Minnesota as a lender and “master trustee” for hospitals, and several of their top executives serve on the Boards of Directors of Minnesota hospital systems.

U.S. Bank leadership are spreading their profit-first approach to Minnesota healthcare.

Timothy Welsh, U.S. Bank Vice Chair of Consumer and Business Banking, sits on Allina’s Board of Directors. Jodi Richard, U.S. Bank Vice Chair and Chief Risk Officer, sits on M Health Fairview’s Board of Directors. Jeff von Gillern, U.S. Bank Vice Chair, Technology and Operations Services, sits on the Children’s Minnesota Board of Directors.

Banking executives don’t share the same priorities as Minnesota’s patients and healthcare workers—so why are they on hospital boards?

Timothy Welsh

Allina Board of Directors

Jodi Richard

Fairview Board of Directors

Jeff von Gillern

Children’s Board of Directors

The silence of these bank executives on the failed leadership of hospital CEOs during negotiations with Minnesota nurses suggests the priorities they bring to the boardroom have more to do with profit than patient care. Rather than bargain a fair contract with nurses, these executives sat by as hospital CEOs paid millions of dollars to temporarily replace nurses at hospitals in September — Fairview alone spent $20 million.

Failed Leadership

Perhaps U.S. Bank executives have been distracted by their own recent bad news. As of October 20, U.S. Bancorp stock was down 36 percent from the previous year. Recently released reports reveal:

  • Net income declined nearly 10.7 percent
  • Diluted earnings per share declined by 10.8 percent

Since 2000, U.S. Bank, its subsidiaries, and predecessors racked up nearly $1.3 billion in regulatory fines.

Now these executives are sitting by as the hospital CEOs working under them continue to fail as leaders in healthcare by prioritizing profits over patients.

U.S. Bank executives are part of the problem

U.S. Bank executives who serve on the boards of major hospitals have failed to publicly intervene to hold hospital CEOs responsible to the public interest. These and other hospital CEOs are failing as leaders, abandoning nurses and patients at the bedside.

Every day these CEOs choose to under-staff nurses, leaving patients to wait longer for a hospital bed or with their call lights on, as nurses are stretched thin trying to help patients use the restroom, turn over in bed, or with medications. Their failure to approve a fair contract forced nurses to take to the picket line in September, meaning patients received care from replacement workers who do not know our local hospitals and our patients like Minnesota nurses do.

As Angela Bechetti, RN at Allina’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital told WCCO-TV during the strike, the replacement nurses hired by her CEO “don’t know our policies [or] our protocols… They don’t know where stuff is, how does our unit work, how do our patients work and you can’t learn that in a couple days of training and that’s an issue for us.”

James Hereford, CEO, M Health Fairview

Under the watch of the U.S. Bank-backed Board of Directors, Hereford has taken a successful healthcare system and turned it into a cash-tree for himself and other executives at the expense of patients and bedside workers. Since 2017, Hereford has taken a 91 percent raise, bringing his total compensation to more than $2.6 million. All of this was happening while he simultaneously shut down Bethesda and St. Joseph’s hospitals during the pandemic and admitted to an affordability crisis in healthcare. Additionally, he has helped bring for-profit healthcare companies to Minnesota through joint ventures with AccentCare and Acadia Healthcare, clear moves towards a profit-first approach to healthcare.

Lisa Shannon, CEO, Allina Health

Tim Welsh of U.S. Bank sits on the Allina Health Board of Directors which hired Lisa Shannon as CEO of the health system, looking past her record at University of Louisville Hospital where state inspectors identified deficiencies in nursing services under her watch in 2016. Healthcare workers, including doctors, criticized hospital executives at the University of Louisville Hospital for instituting layoffs and cuts, which they said forced the hospital to rely on travel nurses unfamiliar with procedures. Now, with less than a year on the job at Allina, Shannon is now being criticized yet again for failing to put patients before profits and to settle a fair contract with nurses.

Marc Gorelick, MD, CEO, Children's Minnesota

While Jeff von Gillern served on the Children’s Minnesota Board of Directors, health system CEO Marc Gorelick moved to “consolidate” the Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICU) at their Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, moving all children needing ICU care to the Minneapolis campus. This change means that Children admitted to the St. Paul emergency department who may then require ICU-level care would have to be transported to Minneapolis. These delays in care can increase the chances of poor outcomes for patients.