Lower Florida Keys Hospital District Board Chairman, James Padget, has shared the response to his December 15th letter to Community Health Systems Chief Executive Officer Wayne Smith. In his letter, Padget asked whether CHS would consider amending its agreement to allow the District more control over operations or possibly breaking its 30-year lease early. Extending the contract period was also mentioned in the Chairman’s letter.
The District has been fielding criticism since last year due to wide spread community dissatisfaction with CHS’ management of the Lower Keys Medical Center (LKMC) on Stock Island. Objections, mostly regarding billing practices, led to the formation of a grass roots “Committee to Rescue Our Hospital” led by former City Commissioner, Harry Bethel.
The agreement, which was originally signed with Health Management Associates [HMA] in 1999, is set to expire in 2029. CHS acquired the LKMC in 2013 when it purchased Health Management Associates in a multibillion-dollar deal.
The company responded, in a December 29th letter, stating they did not wish to either amend the agreement or break the lease early at this time and pointed to the many positive changes being made under new management personnel. The letter was signed by Paul Smith, President Division V, Operations and closed with a request that everyone involved “focus right now on working together to establish the Lower Keys Medical Center as a trusted health resource for the community” and allow a period of “good faith and mutual support” after which the company would consider some changes including amendments to the lease and an extension.
The District board will have an opportunity to discuss the response letter at their next meeting, 2:00 pm Monday, January 30, 2017.
Here is the company’s response in full: