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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frank Daniels Jr., September 11, 2002. Interview R-0320. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Some thoughts on the leadership at Rex Hospital and Wake Medical Center

Daniels never wanted to be a member of a hospital board, but he ended up being on two, he recalls. His board membership brought him into contact with Bill Andrews and Ray Champ, both of whom he describes here. He remembers clashing with Andrews and that Champ surprised him with his competence when he took the helm at Wake Medical Center.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frank Daniels Jr., September 11, 2002. Interview R-0320. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
I didn't want to be on the board. I resisted it.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Why?
FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
Listen, it's enough to be a natural-born publisher. I didn't need to be a natural-born hospital trustee. But Urquhart finally talked me into doing it. I didn't like hospitals, so I didn't want to be on the board. And I ended up being on two hospital boards. But that happens. But that was a pretty intense time. That was one of the reasons that Dick Urquhart stayed on as chairman of Rex Hospital so long because they froze his assets. The court froze his assets because Rex lost the first suit. And then there was a fight with the insurance company, whether the insurance company was going to cover Rex. Because they sued Urquhart personally as chairman as well the hospital itself.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
So his personal assets were tied up?
FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
Yes.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Wow. I don't know how much more time you've got to give me today, but I did want to ask you your observations of Bill Andrews and of Ray Champ as people, as administrators.
FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
I think I've pretty well covered that. I didn't think much of Andrews until after he left Wake and I got to know him better. And I remember telling my friend Mel Finch. Mel Finch was the chief financial officer of the News and Observer, and he and Andrews used to play tennis together. I remember I used to tell Finch, I said, "Finch, every man's got to have one friend who's a real asshole. And your asshole friend is Bill Andrews." Well, later, after I got to know Bill, I enjoyed him. He was loud and he was abrupt and he was sometimes rude and thoughtless, but he had a pretty good sense of humor. And I got to the point where I liked him. I think he was a builder and not an operator. He built the hospital. He should have left after five years. When he retired, he became sort of a traveling hospital administrator and consultant. That's probably what he was best at. He was best at flying in, seeing a problem, either fixing it or putting a Band-Aid on it, and the longer he stayed, the worse it got, was my view of Bill Andrews. That's probably unfair. That's probably unfair, but that was my impression of him. Champ came in, came from West Virginia, I think.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
That's right.
FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
And he was pretty close to his vest too, in terms of what he was going to do and not do. But he understood the competitive nature of hospitals, of how hospitals had become competitive. And I think he did a better job of planning that and looking forward. Turned out to be a very good hospital administrator. He convinced people that they should become not-for-profit. He reached an accommodation, at least. I never was convinced that he was right, but I was convinced that he wasn't doing it for the wrong reason. And my first instinct was he was doing it for all the wrong reasons.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Why did you think he was doing it?
FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
I just couldn't see the logic in what it was he was going to accomplish by not being a county hospital.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
By making the facilities more attractive and that kind of thing?
FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
Oh, I didn't have a problem with making the facilities more attractive. But I thought he was trying to do it to get out from under the county. And I didn't realize how much the county constrained what he could do.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Do you think moving to becoming a private non-profit was a good thing in the end?
FRANK DANIELS, JR.:
Yes. The community's been better served.