Embattled Summa Health President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Thomas Malone announced his resignation Thursday, according to a letter the hospital system's Board of Directors released.

Malone has faced criticism since December, when the hospital system abruptly announced it would not renew the contract of its emergency room physicians that would expire on New Year's Eve. That decision prompted nearly 250 Summa physicians to give Malone a vote of "no confidence." 

The letter from the board thanked Malone for his service and highlighted several areas of progress that were made during his tenure. The letter also stated, however, that the recent backlash due to terminating the contract of Summa Emergency Associates, an independent physician corporation that had served the the system's ERs for decades, and replacing it with Jackson Township-based U.S. Acute Care Solutions, has been a "distraction."

"We deeply appreciate that Tom made this difficult decision because he believes it is the right step forward for Summa Health, our employees, our physicians and the patients we serve," the letter stated. "In our recent conversations with Tom, it became apparent that his continued presence in his role (as) CEO was distracting the forward progress of the organization."

Malone will continue to serve as CEO for up to 60 days as the board looks for his successor, according to the letter.

Summa Health has emergency rooms at Akron City Hospital and its facilities in Green, Barberton, Medina and Wadsworth.