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By MATTHEW HAY
HHBR Washington Correspondent
LAS VEGAS The National Association for Medical Equipment Services’ (NAMES; Alexandria, VA) executive committee unleashed a sweeping restructuring initiative last week that included the removal of NAMES President William Coughlan and up to a third of the association’s 24-member staff.
The changes were signaled at NAMES’ 11th annual FutureShow in Las Vegas a week earlier, but no announcements were made until last week. NAMES announced "a restructuring of its headquarters to more effectively serve the (home medical equipment) industry."
"Just as many of NAMES’ members are in the process of repositioning their own companies to meet the needs of today and tomorrow," said newly appointed NAMES Chairman Mario LaCute, "NAMES, too, finds itself preparing for the next century and responding to these opportunities."
Coughlan was reportedly notified by NAMES’ executive committee early in the week. On Wednesday, several members of NAMES’ executive committee met with a group of association executives at the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA; Alexandria, VA) to address another set of issues and announced Coughlan’s departure at that meeting (see related story, p. 1).
Concerning Coughlan’s departure, a press release stated that "as we move forward in our reengineering process, NAMES’ executive committee believes a new perspective is needed to lead the association."
Coughlan had assumed the mantle at NAMES in 1995 shortly after then-president Corrine Parver abruptly resigned in November 1994. He was initially credited with having brought a measure of stability to NAMES’ finances, but was later criticized for failing to address long-term budgetary issues.
Two years ago, NAMES attempted to boost its revenue by increasing its dues by a hefty 40%, but that move reduced the number of member companies belonging to NAMES significantly and failed to boost revenues as anticipated.
Peter O’Neill, NAMES vice president for operations, would not comment on specifically which other staff members were removed last week, but a member of NAMES’ board said Ken Adams, vice president for government affairs, and Brian Rasmussen, director of research, were among those departing.
NAMES announced that it would be outsourcing several functions in order to let the association "concentrate on serving its membership" and "take advantage of new opportunities."
O’Neill told HHBR that this outsourcing will include several major responsibilities that up until now have been handled internally by full-time staff. The responsibilities include certain MIS, finance, government relations, and communications functions.
According to O’Neill, meetings, education and products are being rolled into a Member Service Center that will be operating within the next two weeks but he said plans for that were well under way prior to last week’s shakeup.
One member of NAMES’ board suggested the association is likely to undertake "a protracted search" for a new president. In the interim, O’Neill will be charged with most of the association’s day-to-day responsibilities. "Right now, everything except government affairs falls into my purview," said O’Neill. Asela Cuervo, NAMES vice president for regulatory affairs, will manage government affairs.