Contrary to what you might think (and frankly, it surprises even me), I take no great joy in the announcement that Bill Borne has stepped down as CEO of Amedisys. For the sake of Amedisys, it needed to happen but there would be no Amedisys at all if not for Bill.
In the early 90’s Amedisys was a very young company fueled by a handful of un-medicated junior execs with severe ADD bouncing around like Brownian motion. There were no senior executives to set limits for us but we had Bill with his pipedream of one day being the largest homecare provider in the US. Nobody knew what they were supposed to be doing doing but we always made it a point to be doing something.
There are certainly psychologists and urban anthropologists who study corporations and behavior. An entire graduate thesis could be written about how Amedisys went from being an unknown agency in a southern city to one of the largest and most successful post-acute care providers in the nation to being the company with the 150M settlement and tarnished reputation.
An advanced degree isn’t required to see that the real problem is that Amedisys simply grew up. The values that were held close in every task and idea by the younger Amedisys were gradually replaced with Corporate cliché’s. The practiced speeches where key points were repeated three times because the speech coach recommended it took the place of genuine communication.
The grown up Amedisys and the grown up Bill Borne just weren’t fun anymore. The primary outcome used as a benchmark by almost everyone in the organization was the price per share of stock. Image mattered more than ever. The spontaneity, imagination and creativity that drove a young company to greatness were so ingrained into the fabric of Amedisys that no one ever really noticed them.
The grown-up Bill Borne lived to please investors to keep the price of stock high. He got so carried away with making the shareholders happy that he forgot that others had invested a hell of a lot more than money in his company. Those of us who bled Amedisys Green didn’t think there were other options for us until we no longer had a choice. We were well prepared – that much I will say.
To this day, I am grateful for everything I learned from Bill Borne and from Amedisys. I learned from Bill that I can simply blaze my own trail if I don’t like the one laid out for me. I made friends that will last much longer than Amedisys. I learned the difference between being driven to accomplish a mission and ambition for the sake of power. I know from my time at Amedisys that being passionate out loud about your job is dangerous but being silent for the sake of playing nicely in the sandbox is cowardly and I have seen how ugly well-behaved cowards can be.
I am even more grateful to be gone.
Bill Borne walked away from Amedisys this morning but he gave his company away years ago. The shareholders replaced patients as a priority and the board of directors replaced his employees as the people to whom he was accountable. Patients are not commodities and the answer to problems isn’t terminating a scapegoat.
The Bill Borne wanna-be that walked away this morning had but a passing acquaintance with authenticity. For those of you who never met the authentic Bill, you missed someone important but he hasn’t been around for years.
I wish Bill luck and love in abundance. I mean that. I hope he finds a little flame and sets the world on fire for a cause other than the price of stock.
I wish Amedisys luck in finding their way in this healthcare maze. They have the ability and resources to redesign home health and set the industry standard or put all of their energy into trying to get the stock price back up to where it belongs. We shall see.