Anchorage

Embattled North Star hospital CEO stepping down, ‘effective immediately’

North Star Hospital

The chief executive of embattled North Star Behavioral Health System is stepping down.

Staff at the East Anchorage hospital received an email Tuesday saying that CEO Anne Marie Lynch was no longer in the position, “effective immediately,” and that she would be moving to another hospital in Indiana. A screenshot of the email was shared with the Daily News.

Lynch had been the top executive at the hospital system since 2021. David Franklin, regional vice president of North Star’s parent company Universal Health Services, did not immediately respond to questions about whether Lynch was fired or quit of her own accord.

Lynch’s departure comes as North Star faces federal, state and hospital accreditation regulators finding serious problems at the hospital within the past six months. Most recently, the Joint Commission, a nonprofit accreditation group meant to gauge hospital quality and safety, issued an “initial denial of accreditation” to North Star, citing dangerous conditions for young patients.

Last week, the Daily News published an account of deepening dysfunction at the hospital, the only place children under 12 can get hospital-level care for psychiatric illness in Alaska. Former employees described poor management and understaffing contributing to destruction and chaos within the hospital, including rampant vandalism, escapes and understaffing so severe it prevented public school teachers from delivering lessons within the hospital because of safety concerns.

During Lynch’s tenure, North Star has also contended with a string of escapes, an increase in calls to police and accusations that young patients were sexually assaulted by peers while admitted to the hospital.

Lynch could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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The new CEO of North Star will be Patrick Wilder, a health care executive most recently employed by a Las Vegas hospital owned by Universal Health Services.

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Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter who covers news and features about life in Alaska, and has been focusing on corrections and psychiatric care issues in the state. Contact her at mtheriault@adn.com.

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