Quincy Medical Center President Daniel Knell has stepped down from his position, following questions over his leadership in the past several months.
The decision, which took effect Thursday, comes months after a tense one-day strike by the hospital’s nurses in March, as well as a harsh state inspection in May that led to a temporary closure of the psychiatric ward for seniors.
“Over the last few months … several incidents have ignited public debate concerning the leadership of our hospital,’’ Knell wrote in his resignation letter. “After discussing these events with [Steward Health Care System’s] Chairman and charting the most appropriate path for the future we decided that it would be in the best interest of Quincy Medical Center for me to step down as President.’’
In the letter, Knell said that Donna Rubinate, the current chief operating officer of Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, will replace him on an interim basis.
“Donna is a highly experienced and accomplished nurse executive. I am leaving you in very capable hands,’’ Knell wrote.
Christopher Murphy, spokesman for Steward, which owns Quincy Medical Center, declined to say when the decision was made, only saying it was effective Thursday.
Sandra McGunigle, Quincy Medical Center’s director of public relations and marketing, also did not have any further information on the process to replace Knell, or if Knell might return to an administrative role at Steward.
Knell stepped in to the Quincy Medical Center role in November 2011 after the hospital network acquired the local hospital in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings.
A chief restructuring officer for Steward, Knell has also held the role of CEO for Springhill Regional Medical Center and Bartow Regional Medical Center in central Florida.
Knell said he was “honored to serve as the President’’ of Quincy Medical Center, and that the hospital team had “accomplished much.’’ But his term was marked by turmoil.
In March, contract negotiations with Quincy Medical Center came to a head as nurses participated in a one-day strike in front of hospital grounds.
Nurses cited concerns over patient care and said staffing levels were making it difficult to provide adequate services.
Hospital officials vehemently denied that patients were receiving substandard care, but their case was undermined by a surprise state inspection on May 23.
On Quincy Medical Center’s psychiatric ward for seniors, inspectors found patients largely ignored by hospital staff.
Several were left in hospital beds without covers. One woman was covered in feces, another was cowering and frightened, state Department of Mental Health officials said in the report.
Coupled with dirty floors, damaged furniture, patient common areas misused as storage, and missing privacy curtain in patient rooms, admissions to the unit were temporarily put on hold.
Department of Mental Health officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this article. At the time of the findings, state officials pointed to the leadership of the hopsital as a concern.
Knell responded to the report in a June letter, saying the unit had been cleaned and furniture replaced.
Several staff members had been fired and training was scheduled for those remaining.