The president and chief executive of the University of Maryland Medical System resigned Friday, one day after federal agents searched Baltimore City Hall and Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s home in a highly visible indication of a federal criminal case over lucrative book deals Pugh made with private businesses, including UMMS.
Robert A. Chrencik submitted his resignation to the board of directors Friday, interim chief executive John Ashworth said in a statement.
“This action is an important step in moving the Health System forward during this critical time and we remain focused on delivering exceptional, safe, quality health care across Maryland,” said Ashworth, senior vice president for UMMS and associate dean at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We thank Mr. Chrencik for his leadership, service and commitment during his 35 years of executive employment at UMMS.”
Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R), said the medical system “has a lot of work to do to restore trust, but this is a step in the right direction. The governor believes very strongly that with a change in leadership must come a change in culture, meaning real accountability and transparency.”
UMMS is a private, nonprofit organization that operates a network of 13 hospitals, including the state’s trauma unit in Baltimore, and is one of the largest employers in Maryland. It has received nearly $25 million in public funds in the past two years.
The UMMS board of directors asked Chrencik to take leave in March amid a scandal surrounding lucrative contracts board members made with the system they oversaw, including $500,000 the system paid Pugh (D) for her Healthy Holly books. The book sales were first reported by the Baltimore Sun.
Pugh resigned from the UMMS board and has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the mayor’s office. She has apologized for the deals, and her lawyer said Thursday that the many calls for her resignation have “not fallen on deaf ears.”
“In the near future, she will make a decision that is in the best interests of Baltimore,” attorney Steve D. Silverman said.
Hogan has asked the state prosecutor to launch an investigation into Pugh’s deals with UMMS, and the Baltimore Ethics Board has also launched a probe.
Pugh was among nine UMMS board members who had contracts with the system, which were worth millions of dollars in some cases. They have all taken leaves of absence from the board.
The University of Maryland Medical System confirmed receipt Thursday of a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. attorney in Maryland. The subpoena seeks documents and other information “to conduct their investigation of Mayor Pugh,” according to UMMS spokesman Michael Schwartzberg. He said the medical system is “fully cooperating with the investigative process.”
Chrencik began working for the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore as a consultant in the late 1970s, before the system privatized in 1984. He became the chief financial officer of UMMS in 1987 and the executive vice president in 1999.
Since 2000, the system has rapidly expanded and now has 28,000 employees and $4.4 billion in annual revenue.
Ashworth said the system has hired Nygren Consulting, a California-based firm, to review private contracts held by board members and to implement industry best practices.
The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation this year that will dissolve the UMMS board in several stages, require members to reapply, and bar members from holding single-source contracts with the system.