In what may be the briefest public meeting on record in Iberia Parish, the Iberia Medical Center Board of Commissioners convened Wednesday afternoon to accept an investigative report on members Frederick "Bozo" Metz and David C. Benson.
The report leaves any final decision over the removal of the two board members up to the Iberia Parish Council, but it lays out multiple witness accounts of statements each has made that the report calls "detrimental" to the hospital's success.
Chairman Larry Hensgen called the meeting to order shortly after 3 p.m. The single item on the agenda — to accept the report of special counsel Matthew Brown and forward it to the Iberia Parish Council — was handled in less than a minute, with board member Burton Cestia moving to accept the report.
The vote was 5-0 in favor of accepting and forwarding the report. Four board members — Brock Romero, Ernest Wilson, Metz and Benson — were not present.
Each member of the board received a copy of the report. Another 18 copies were boxed and sent to the Iberia Parish Council, where it is expected they will be distributed during tonight's regular council meeting.
In a 5-1 vote during a special meeting on Aug. 22, the IMC board approved hiring Brown, a lawyer with Sullivan Stolier and Schulze LLC. As special counsel, Brown was tasked with determining if any actions Metz or Benson have engaged in amount to cause for their removal or disqualify them from serving on the board.
The final result of Brown's investigation cites nine witnesses who described Metz' actions and statements detrimental to the board and seven witnesses describing Benson's statements and actions that were not in the best interests of the hospital.
In his summary, Brown differentiated between Metz' actions and those of Benson.
"Thus, there is evidence summarized earlier in this section, showing that Mr. Metz has engaged in conduct that has, according to the witnesses, produced 'results detrimental or prejudicial to the efficiency' of Iberia Medical Center. There is also evidence that the hospital staff believes that Dr. Benson was incorrectly placed on the board and that they believe that Dr. Benson's disruptive nature interferes with his team work, and is generally harmful to the hospital."
The board did not go into executive session to review the report before sending it to the Iberia Parish Council, although some members remained at the table to read the document after the meeting was completed.
Because the parish council was the appointing authority for Metz and Benson, any action to remove either or both of them would have to come from the council.
The hospital’s Medical Executive Committee brought the issue of removing the two board members to the IMC board in the form of its own resolution during a special meeting on Aug. 7. Dr. Michelle Menard, the hospital’s chief of medical staff, read a resolution demanding the resignation of Metz and Benson. Of the more than 130 physicians who serve IMC, 32 voted — 30 in favor of the resolution, one opposed and one abstained.
The move came less than two weeks after IMC Chief Executive Officer Parker Templeton tendered his resignation, effective Oct. 25.