Lake Shore Hospital Authority
The Shands merger on the record
Columbia County, FL (Posted June 3, 2010 09:15 am)
Columbia County's Lake Shore Hospital Authority is entering a new phase with the recent acquisition and partnership between leaseholder Shands and Hospital Management Associates. Lake Shore Hospital Authority Chairman Marc Vann and Authority Manager and former Chairman, Jack Berry, spoke to the Observer regarding the merger/takeover and the new lease agreement.
Chairman Marc Vann
Observer: Nobody contacted the Observer about the press conference the other day. Can you tell me a little about what is going on here?
Mr. Vann: Shands has entered into a tentative agreement with Hospital Management Associates of Naples. It is a large, basically rural, hospital company. It owns fifty five hospitals. Shands has come to grips that they are not geared to manage rural hospitals.
Observer: Did the Board have to authorize someone to negotiate on its behalf to renegotiate the lease?
Mr. Vann: No.
Observer: If the Authority approves the lease, which of course is necessary for the merger of Shands and Hospital Management Associates, when do you think they will be taking over?
Mr. Vann: By the first of July they will be taking over the day to day operation of the hospital.
Observer: Recently there have been some questions regarding maintenance at Shands and what is the Authority's responsibility.
Mr. Vann: It is the interpretation of maintenance. It is the interpretation of long time repairs and capital improvements. That is all part of the conversations.
Observer: Can you tell me something about tomorrow night's meeting?
Mr. Vann: Tomorrow night's meeting is their presentation to our board. I don't know what we'll see.
Mr. Vann received a phone call and walked away. The conversation was continued a short while later with Authority Manager, Jack Berry.
Authority Manager Jack Berry
Observer: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
Mr. Berry: No problem.
Observer: Can you tell me a little about tomorrow's meeting?
Mr. Berry: The purpose of the special meeting is to hear a presentation from Hospital Management Associates and to discuss the lease changes.... There will be a presentation by Shands, a presentation by Health Management Associates and then we'll have a discussion by the Board on the proposed changes in the lease.
Observer: Do you expect that the Board will be voting on this tomorrow?
Mr. Berry: They probably won't vote.
Observer: Do you feel that the public will benefit from a new lease agreement?
Mr. Berry explained that a bond issue must be paid off; the hospital will go back on the tax rolls; Health Management Associates will be paying about $250,000 in ad valorem taxes and about $35,000 in sales tax; there will be greatly expanded medical services to the public; the indigent care program will remain the same; the rates that the Authority currently pays Shands will be frozen.
Observer: What about the hospital maintenance the Authority has been paying?
Mr. Berry: All maintenance will be assumed by the new corporation.
Observer: What do you expect the lease payments [for the hospital] to be?
Mr. Berry: We'll be getting between $400,000 and $500,000 a year.
Observer: Do you know the total that the Authority was collecting from Shands?
Mr. Berry: I have no idea what that is right now. I can get it from Richard Powell [the accountant – financial advisor – outside auditor]. This will come out at the meeting tomorrow night.
Observer: Do you feel there will be primary indigent care clinic close by to the hospital?
Mr. Berry: I think you can visualize that in the future. I'm not fixin to tell you what's going to happen. I am not going to make any predictions. You will see a lot of things change for the better.
Observer: Do you ever plan to have a public meeting to see what the citizens want their Hospital Authority to be? Do you think that would be a good idea for the Board?
Mr. Berry: That's a Board decision -- What do you mean what they want us to do?
Observer: Some time ago there was a study that determined it would cost almost $10,000,000 to renovate the hospital. Who is going to do that?
Mr. Berry: That will be part of this deal.
Observer: This looks like it could be a good thing.
Mr. Berry: I think so. It's been a long time in the works.
Observer: Do you have a final thought?
Mr. Berry: This will enable the residents of Columbia County to save money and improve the health care at the same time.
Observer: Thanks for your time.