DCHS unions want Schon out as CEO

By Iron Mountain Daily News Staff

IRON MOUNTAIN — Two Dickinson County Healthcare System employee unions today called for hospital administrator and CEO John Schon to resign or be fired.

The call comes as the hospital heads toward a Chapter 11 bankruptcy after two potential buyers pulled away.

“It’s not right that John Schon gets a $1.3 million pension payout while the rest of us face huge uncertainty amid bankruptcy,” said Susan Berquist, RN, who works in the Emergency Department and is the president of the Michigan Nurses Association that represents registered nurses at DCHS. “Under his leadership, the hospital was driven into such a bad financial position that our whole region’s economy is at risk. As our community struggles to move forward, we all deserve accountability and transparency — values that John Schon clearly does not share. It’s past time for him to go.”

The MNA, in a news release, said the hospital communicated very little with the unions regarding the potential sale — including possible pitfalls they may have been able to help prevent.

Meanwhile, in addition to his $271,000-a-year salary, Dickinson County Healthcare System spends tens of thousands of dollars to cover Schon’s benefits, part of his vehicle costs and part of his country club membership, the union said.

“Everyone is outraged that the CEO who led us into this mess doesn’t have to answer for it, and could actually come through unscathed,” said Shirley Dishaw-Beck, RN, a cardiac and pulmonary rehab nurse and secretary of the MNA union at the hospital. “We are all dedicated employees who want the best for our hospital and our patients, and no one has faith in a leader who won’t take responsibility and won’t share information.”

The union stated that if Schon does not resign, the Dickinson County Healthcare System Board should terminate his employment. If the board fails to fire him, the Dickinson County Board should do so, the union said.

Later in the day, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 1176 — which represents more than 300 DCHS workers, including nurse aides, LPNs, laundry aides, cooks, security guards and other administrative professionals and healthcare providers — joined in seeking Schon’s ouster, also faulting his salary and benefits package.

“John Schon is definitely living the good life, raking in nearly $300,000 a year in salary plus tens of thousands of dollars in benefits, while the people doing the work and putting in long hours are being left empty handed,” Lawrence Roehrig, president of AFSCME Council 25 representing all AFSCME workers in Michigan, said in a release.

The DCHS Board on Tuesday authorized attorney Michael Celello to recruit a bankruptcy counsel to guide the hospital through a Chapter 11 filing. The goal is to maintain full services while the hospital explores reorganization.