Church, whistleblower react to misconduct probe at region’s second largest employer

Former Kettering Health board chair is current president of Seventh-day Adventist Conference



Concerns about misconduct at Kettering Health touch the highest ranks of an organization that is the region’s second largest employer and plays a central role in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The SDA Columbia Union Conference, the administrative body of the church in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, said in a statement it is “aware and takes seriously allegations of inappropriate fiscal and operational management at Kettering Health, a nonprofit health care organization sponsored by the Columbia Union.”

“The allegations are currently being investigated by an external firm retained by the Kettering Health Board to conduct a thorough and independent examination,” the statement says, echoing statements from the hospital.

The exact nature of the investigation is unknown. Kettering Health announced its investigation in response to questions about anonymous complaints to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office about “abuse of charitable funds” by Kettering Health executives including former board chairman Dave Weigley and former Kettering Health CEO Fred Manchur who retired last year.

Neither Manchur nor Weigley have responded to multiple requests for comment.

The Columbia Union Conference appoints several members to Kettering Health’s board. Weigley is currently president of the conference and was chairman of the Kettering Health board until he stepped down in January for “family reasons,” according to the conference.

Weigley named as his successor current hospital board chair Celeste Ryan Blyden. Blyden has worked for the SDA Church for 30 years. She is also the executive secretary of the Columbia Union Conference. She was vice chair of Kettering Health’s board since January 2022, the Visitor Magazine said.

Blyden’s background and education is in public relations, organizational communications, psychology, and theology, according to Washington Adventist University’s website, where Blyden has also served on the board of trustees. She is also an ordained local church elder.

“Kettering Health is an integral part of the mission and ministry of the Columbia Union to operate health care institutions which promote our faith-based approach to health care and which include a ministry of healing to the whole person — body, mind and spirit,” the Columbia Union Conference said.

Hospital and church officials have said that issues identified through their investigation are being addressed immediately, but won’t say what those changes are. They say the investigation found no issues pertaining to donor funds.

Complainant goes public

The Dayton Daily News interviewed one of the people who made the complaints, former executive secretary at Soin Medical Center Lori Van Nostrand. She complained about nepotism in the hospital system and hospital funds being used for improvements at Manchur’s house, among other things. She also said there were lot of trips that were non-hospital related.

“There’s this search nationwide for a CEO, but you still have leadership that participated,” she said about why she filed a complaint with the state. “To me, if you don’t stand up and go against or speak out and just say, ‘This isn’t right,’ you’re part of the problem.”

Van Nostrand, who filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in August 2021 according to the complaint, worked at Soin for five and a half years until she resigned in February 2022 after claiming she was retaliated against for comments she made in support of a letter that was circulating among hospital staff criticizing Manchur. Van Nostrand filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Precedent elsewhere

An independent health market analyst spoke with the Dayton Daily News about examples of investigations into extravagant spending done by hospitals or health care systems in other states. Allan Baumgarten said attorneys general of other states, like Minnesota, have had health systems adopt new policies regarding gifts, retreats for board members, or other questionable practices.

In the early 2000s, Mike Hatch, Minnesota attorney general at that time, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance regarding non-profit and charitable organizations, specifically going over extravagant spending for board members and executives of different health care-related industries. Examples included expensive retreats out of the country and “lavish gifts.”

“You get very bad publicity, you get in the cross hairs or the in the bad graces of an official like an attorney general, and it’s possible that you’re forced to, very publicly, adopt new policies and practices and to maybe say goodbye to some of the board members who were present when those kinds of practices were taking place,” Baumgarten said.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office won’t comment on whether it is involved in any investigation at Kettering Health.

The U.S. spends more than any country on health care — over $12,000 per person in 2021, according to the World Economic Forum — and wasteful spending the U.S. health care system is projected to be in the billions. A 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association yielded the following estimated ranges of total annual cost of waste: failure of care delivery, $102.4 billion to $165.7 billion; failure of care coordination, $27.2 billion to $78.2 billion; overtreatment or low-value care, $75.7 billion to $101.2 billion; pricing failure, $230.7 billion to $240.5 billion; fraud and abuse, $58.5 billion to $83.9 billion; and administrative complexity, $265.6 billion.

Major employer

Kettering Health is ranked as the region’s second largest employer, after Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, according to the Ohio Department of Development’s 2022 major employer list. Kettering Health is reported as having approximately 14,400 employees in Ohio, the same as Honda. For comparison, Premier Health Partners is reported as having 11,100 employees.

Almost four years ago, the figures for Kettering Health and Premier Health were the opposite, with Kettering Health reported has having 12,000 employees in 2019 and Premier Health Partners with 14,000 employees, according to the Ohio Department of Development.

Kettering Health has 14 medical centers and over 120 outpatient locations throughout Western Ohio, as well as Kettering Physician Network, which includes more than 700 board-certified providers.

Together, Kettering Health’s large facilities saw approximately 70,000 admission in 2021, according to the Ohio Department of Health.


Kettering Health recently announced it is conducting an internal investigation into “allegations of inappropriate fiscal and operational management” in response to questions about complaints submitted to the Ohio Attorney General. As an employer and health care provider, Kettering Health is a major institution in our region, and we will continue pursuing the facts. Your subscription makes this possible.

About the Author