Less than two years after joining the nonprofit company that owns troubled Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, the firm's chief financial officer has resigned.

The departure this week of Harry Weis, who had held the job at Adventist HealthCare Inc. since March 1998, continues changes that have roiled the company since October, when Shady Grove doctors complained that patient safety was being compromised by staff cuts and poor management.

After a string of medical mishaps--including the death of one unattended patient and the replacement of the wrong hip of another--the hospital is fighting to retain its accreditation and to persuade state and federal health officials that it should continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds. Without such financial support, the hospital probably would have to close.

In November, soon after the medical staff's complaints became public, Adventist HealthCare board members forced the company's chief executive to resign, and reassigned another top executive. On an interim basis, Adventist brought in a new board chairman and chief executive and installed a president at Shady Grove.

Weis will be replaced temporarily when he leaves in February to become the chief financial officer of a group of California Adventist hospitals, said Adventist spokesman Robert Jepson, who added that Weis was recruited by his new employer and was not forced out.

"His leaving is not related to the issues that have been in the press recently," Jepson said. "They did approach him. He's somebody whose knowledge is widely respected."

Adventist HealthCare employs 5,000 people in Maryland, the District, Virginia and New Jersey at seven nursing homes, a regional home health agency and three hospitals, including Shady Grove and Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. In 1998, the firm reported revenue of $314 million.

Financially, the regional Adventist health care companies are independent and unrelated to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But the regional firms' boards are dominated by representatives of the church.

Weis collected $379,000 in compensation in 1998, including $200,000 in base pay, $25,000 in bonuses and $131,000 in company retirement contributions.

Six months before he joined the firm, the previous chief financial officer, Edmund R. Peters, departed Adventist HealthCare with a severance package worth $3.1 million.

Another executive, Bryan Breckenridge, left about the same time with a $4.7 million package.

Although the chief financial officer job description does not require candidates to be church members, Jepson said, "traditionally the position has been filled by a Seventh-day Adventist."