Eileen Whalen, a noted trauma-services expert who has served as executive director of Harborview Medical Center since 2008, has abruptly resigned.
In a short memo to staff on Friday, Johnese Spisso, chief health system officer, UW Medicine, and vice president for medical affairs, University of Washington, said Whalen’s resignation became effective on Thursday.
Spisso said she will assume Whalen’s responsibilities as interim executive director until a new executive director is named.
Whalen has “led the organization to many accomplishments,” including advancing the quality and safety of patient care, Spisso said in the memo, sent to staff and others.
The resignation follows several months of controversy after Harborview officials acknowledged in December that they were considering a plan to move hospital primary-care clinics into the community. The possibility triggered opposition from former hospital leaders and a letter of concern from six members of the Metropolitan King County Council — King County owns Harborview. Sources said the plan appears to have been abandoned.
Whalen’s resignation is the second abrupt departure for a Harborview executive director in the last decade. Chief Executive David Jaffe, 58, retired suddenly in 2007, surprising his boss, Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine.
Spisso said Whalen will work with her office for the next six months on “special projects.” Hospital spokeswoman Tina Mankowski said Whalen “has left the university,” and that a nationwide search would commence within a month or so for a new executive. Whalen referred calls to her lawyer, who was not available for comment late Friday.