Hoover leaves Region D for Sunrise Medical

Sunday, July 31, 2005

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Robert Hoover, who's worked as the medical director at the Region D DMERC for seven years, is leaving CIGNA for a new position as Sunrise Medical's senior vice president of global clinical services.

In an announcement last Thursday, Sunrise Medical said that Hoover will use "his extensive experience, knowledge and relationships with medical professionals to help further establish Sunrise Medical as a true partner within the healthcare community."

In the same press release, Hoover said he would use outcomes measures and scientific research to help Sunrise develop innovative new products.

Hoover's appointment is a rare gesture by a manufacturer of home medical equipment products. With the exception of Hoveround, none of the major manufacturers have hired a physician of Hoover's stature to work in a such a senior-level position.

In late 2003, the Scooter Store hired the Region C medical director, Paul Metzger, to work as that company's vice president of government relations. Metzger resigned from the Scooter Store six months later.

Hoover commands a great deal of respect from HME suppliers, who say he was progressive and supportive but resolute.

"It leaves a huge hole to fill," said Tim Pontius, who chaired AAHomecare last year and has sat on the Region B Council for years. "I'm not saying the next person won't fill it, but there's a learning curve, and these are critical times."

After Metzger decamped from Region C, providers feared disruptions that never quite materialized during the tenure of an interim director or Metzger's ultimate replacement, Stacey Brennan.

"I didn't see big problems [after Metzger's departure]," said Peggy Walker, an industry reimbursement consultant who sits on the Region C Council. "You don't notice anything because the medical directors don't anything except for when it comes to policy."