Jan 132017

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:

Download (PDF, 87KB)

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 January 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am News  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Hospital Management Company [CHS] Won’t Break Contract Early or Share Control…(Not Yet)…”

  1. I doubt it was necessary to be a prophet to know how CHS would respond. What incentive did CHS have to respond any differently? Our just replaced State Attorney gave CHS a pass. Our new State Attorney, who during his campaign said our old State Attorney should have impaneled a grand jury to investigate CHS, and who emailed me that he was looking at asking the US Attorney in investigate CHS’s operation of our hospital, was only just sworn into office. Will he do what he said during his campaign his defeated opponent should have done? Will he ask the US attorney to investigate CHS? I suppose that’s a stay tuned question….

    Meanwhile, have things actually improved at the hospital? Have the many complaints been addressed, or are being addressed? If not, what has CHS not taken care of, which is should have taken care of. For sure, spending $25,000 on a rigged outside attorney’s opinion did not increase our faith in the Hospital Board. Asleep at the switch, backing in their own importance? Until citizens’ screams and local newspaper reports finally woke them up? Then the ass-covering really started, didn’t it? And, finally, the Board started letting citizens attend Board meetings, yes? So all was not wasted motion, hopefully. $25,000 was wasted, though, and why should not the Board have to pay it back, since it told the outside law firm what to cover and what not to cover in its opinion?

  2. backing in its own importance, should be basking in its own importance

    I don’t know how relevant it might be, but I only today was woken up to the fact that Jim Hendrick authored the cobbling together of dePoo and the hospital. He was at the pubic meeting of the Hospital Board, at which the vote was taken, pushed by City Commission, ex-judge, Richard Payne, to seek outside legal counsel. Jim said at that meeting that the outside legal opinion should cost no more than $10,000. The Board’s own lawyer said it would be much higher, as did I say that.

    I understand that the backstory for dePoo merging with the hospital on Stock Island, is that was in the middle of the AIDS epidemic, the hospital was loosing a lot of money. The best perceived solution was to sell the hospital. The Boar did not want ongoing oversight liability. Florida Attorney General opinions were sought and received. It was legal for the Board to enter into the lease with HMA, under which HMA had all power.

    So, the Board then became effectively …. a figure head? Well, it still could have made noise if it saw things going wrong. It could have written letters to the editor. It would have opened its meetings to citizens. But what did it do. Nothing that I know of. Until former Harry Bethel, Father Stephen Braddock and others started howling about the hospital.

    I have heard Bethel is Dr. Ellie Gerth’s alter ago. I have heard Dr. Gerth is a good doctor, but he was acting out inappropriately at the hospital, and that’s why he lost his hospital privileges. Bethel did not like that. I have watched Bethel for many years. I have seen that Bethel tends to have his own agendas when he holds forth publicly. I watched him mount a drive to defeat Dennis Ward in 2012, because Ward and prosecuted, convicted and put Bethel’s lobster trap-robbing son in prison.

    Anyone who becomes a director of a public service enterprise, say a hospital, assumes a fiduciary duty to the public.That’s a much higher duty than a private citizen has. It requires more diligence. It requires speaking out, if something seems awry. It requires going to the press, if speaking out at board meeting is not effective.

    Perhaps people should give more thought ahead of time, to whether they wish to be on public boards. Perhaps they should consider whether they have what is required to be diligent and speak out when they feel something awry is not being addressed.

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