Duke Health losing its Chief Medical Officer after just 8 weeks. New job, and enormous salary increase, for Dr Michael Cuffe at Hosp Corp of America

Make sure you scroll down after reading this: first Potti Mess lawsuit filed.

✔✔✔✔✔ Chancellor Victor Dzau said last night that he has "unofficial" word that Dr. Michael Cuffe -- named Chief Medical Officer for all of Duke Health just eight weeks ago -- was resigning.

In fact Dzau was just being careful and polite, leaving to Cuffe and his new employer, the Hospital Corporation of America, the formal announcement. The chancellor -- reached after FC received a flurry of tips from Loyal Readers -- joined others in contact with FC to express deep regret at Duke's loss and best wishes to Cuffe as he leaves for an unparalleled opportunity -- no longer in academic medicine but in the corporate world.

Word of Cuffe's resignation -- effective in November -- sent a shock wave through the medical campus, where Cuffe enjoys a sterling reputation. One source told FC his mood was one of disappointment; he praised Cuffe as "brilliant," and said he had seemed devoted to Duke and effecting change, and had been lured by high paying corporate offers before.

Cuffe, who had been vice dean of the Medical School (and holder of a couple other titles) leapfrogged over others at Duke Medicine to his post in the inner circle in July. He also was given the title of vice president for ambulatory care, with vast authority over the ever-expanding medical empire.

Cuffe -- an alumnus of the medical school '91 who took it upon himself to earn an MBA in 2009 -- is a cardiologist. He was regarded as having an inside track to succeed Dzau if the chancellor elects to retire in three years, when he will be 68 and his current five-year contract expires. We believe Cuffe is about 47 years old. We did not reach him last night, as it got pretty late before we put together elements of the story.

✔✔ Cuffe will join the Nashville based Hospital Corporation of America, a behemouth that runs for-profit hospitals, employs 180,000 people and had sales last year of $33 billion. He reportedly will hold the title of XXX president and chief operating officer, #2 in command under a board chair who will reach retirement age in six years. This position has been open for some time. XXX correction: While Dr Cuffe will hold the title of president, this is in a particular division, rather than being corporate wide. XXX

Correction: our original post, based upon what we understood to be his new job, estimated his new salary. We can no longer support those calculations and have XXX them to flag historians who value FC!

XXX Cuffe, who earned $535,201 in the last year for which we have information, can expect a rather hefty increase. His new boss, HCA chair Richard Bracken, earned a neat $38,201,047 last year.

Cuffe also does a leapfrog at HCA, landing ahead of eight group presidents. So far as FC can determine, the highest earning of those was Samuel Hazen, president of the operations group, who took down $15,001,816 last year. XXXX

✔ Fact Checker -- in compiling those numbers -- also spotted a rather serious diversity issue at HCA. There are 15 corporate directors -- all of them male, all of them white. Among the directors are two members of the Frist family, multi-billionnaires several times over, who founded HCA. The most notable family member is former US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Republican of course.

The diversity issue also pervades the list of senior officers of the corporation, pictured on-line. Among 23 senior officers of the corporation, there are three females. As for males, one is named Juan, one conceivably might be black, and the rest are all white.

An important angle of this story involves the retired chair of HCA, Jack Bovender, Trustee of Duke and since July 1, vice chair of the board. The issue is whether he had any role in recruiting Cuffe, one of Duke's stars.

If so, it raises the question of Bovender's stewardship at the university. As a Trustee, he has a fiduciary responsibility to act totally in Duke's interests. In other words, we can't have Trustees going around stealing our key people for their profit enterprises!

Time will tell.

FC posted the following on July 13 when Cuffe was promoted to Chief of Medicine.


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