D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s choice to lead the District’s public psychiatric institution had only one other hospital stint on his résumé: chief executive of a hospital on an Indian reservation where emergency services were halted because they posed a risk to patients, according to federal and tribal officials.
James Edward Kyle, 50, who took over as chief executive of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast Washington on March 2, also was found unqualified for a job at the University of the District of Columbia after regulators discovered he lacked the proper credentials, according to records kept by the District’s Board of Nursing.
“My previous experience, military service, and training as a health care executive have prepared me for this job,” Kyle wrote in an email to The Washington Post. “I’m excited about the opportunity to build on the work that has taken place. We are focused on delivering high quality care at Saint Elizabeths Hospital.”
When she selected Kyle for the $171,000-a-year job at St. Elizabeths last month, Bowser sang his praises. “Dr. Kyle is a nationally board certified health care executive with over thirty years of experience in the medical field,” the mayor said in a news release.
It’s unclear how the mayor was counting, but Kyle’s résumé shows 10 years in the health field. He is not a physician. He earned a doctorate in leadership from Charisma University — a school in the British West Indies that is not accredited in the United States and was unable to get recognition in the Philippines, where it was founded.
According to his résumé, LinkedIn page and city officials, Kyle served in the U.S. Army for nine years and worked as a manager for a nursing agency and as a professor and diversity officer at a for-profit online university. He also worked for a year as a nurse recruiter at a Veterans Affairs health center in San Francisco.
Tanya Royster, director of the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, said Kyle was the best choice for St. Elizabeths because of his varied background and vision for engaging with the community.
“I’ve been impressed with what he’s done in the first couple of weeks that he’s been there,” she said. “The staff are united behind him; the staff are engaged.”
But she acknowledged there was dissent among the hospital’s 700 employees. “Unfortunately, people are bitter, angry and disappointed that they did not assume leadership,” Royster said.
Bowser’s spokesman declined to say why the mayor selected him. Kyle replaced Beth Gouse, who had worked at the hospital for 20 years.
Absent from the hiring announcement was the fact that Kyle was named R.N. director of nursing for the University of the District of Columbia non-credit programs. At a September 2013 meeting of the city’s Board of Nursing, which regulates health-care providers in the District, the board found that Kyle’s work experience did not meet requirements for the job and notified UDC officials, according to records.
Officials at UDC did not respond to inquiries, and it was unclear if Kyle had spent any time on the job. Royster said she did not know the particulars of Kyle’s time at UDC but said it was irrelevant.
Kyle’s only experience at the helm of a hospital was four months, starting in July 2015, as chief executive of an Indian Health Service facility serving the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in Rosebud, S.D. The Indian Health Service is part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
That hospital is at risk of losing federal Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements after a series of discoveries made public in December by Rep. Kristi L. Noem (R-S.D.), including that an unattended woman gave birth on the floor and that surgical equipment was hand-washed, according to the congresswoman’s office. Noem said at the time that the incidents took place “in recent weeks.”
Royster said Kyle wasn’t responsible for the longtime problems at Rosebud. She said she was under the impression he left in January because members of the local health board preferred a Native American leader. Board officials disputed this and said they never saw Kyle again after he left the job in November.
Rosebud Sioux leaders reached by The Post said they had high hopes for Kyle, but he clashed with staff and gave false assurances about the hospital’s preparedness for a review by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
When Kathleen Wooden Knife, a tribal representative, asked Kyle if the hospital was ready for a CMS review, she said he assured her it would pass without any problem.
Kyle left in November, right before federal officials inspected the hospital and shut down the emergency room, saying it posed an immediate risk to patients. This month, the hospital received a two-month extension to improve conditions before officials stop paying Medicare and Medicaid claims submitted by providers there.
Kyle “just up and left, and left us high and dry,” said William Bear Shield, another Rosebud Sioux.
The hospital’s troubles started before Kyle’s arrival. “I don’t know they got any worse,” added Bear Shield. “I could definitely tell you nothing got better while he was here.”
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.