Residents and staff packed last week’s Sitka Community Hospital board meeting (2-23-17), to express support for Dr. Richard Wein. A long-time surgeon at the hospital, Wein’s contract was not renewed after an undisclosed personnel dispute.

Downloadable audio.

Note: KCAW News has reached out to Dr. Wein for comment on this story. Wein was placed on administrative leave about two weeks ago, before the hospital decided not to renew his contract. Hospital CEO Rob Allen says a temporary surgeon, Dr. Thomas Bolling, will be in Sitka this Wednesday (3-1-17) to cover for Wein. The hospital expects to recruit a new surgeon sometime over the summer.

Dr. Richard Wein. (SCH photo)

Wein was the staff surgeon at the hospital. He had a good reputation with his patients.

Former assembly member Tom Pratt told the board that they should protect hospital staff, and urged them to retain Wein.

“It’s a special thing when you’re dealing with people. You’ve got to have someone who can talk to people and identify with them, and Dr. Wein was one of those.”

Resident Karen Lucas encouraged the board to renegotiate a new package with Wein. She said that he had a 17-year commitment to Sitka that was important to residents who were wary of imported talent from out-of-state.

She thought he was an exceptionally talented surgeon, and…

“Above and beyond his skill, the man is personable, he’s soft-spoken, he’s humble, he’s charitable. He’s a man who can reach anybody, no matter what tier they belong to economically.”

Hospital CEO Rob Allen could offer no details on Wein’s dismissal since it was a personnel issue. But, Allen added, it was also a very personal issue.

“Personnel issues are always difficult. This one particularly so because he saved my dad’s life in the fall time, and I agree with many of the sentiments that I’ve heard not only tonight but in the paper, and on Problem Corner, and from the phone calls that I’ve received.”

Allen said that it was his decision — a CEO decision — to terminate Wein’s contract, and not a board-level decision. And it was a decision he was not pleased to make.

“It ended in a way that I was not happy with nor expecting.”

Allen said that he could not explain the reasons behind the decision, publicly defend it, or confirm or deny any of the rumors that had been circulating regarding Wein’s departure.

“I recognize that he made a difference in many lives,” Allen said. “I know that.”