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Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Auth News

Lake Shore Hosp Auth Board member: "Jack's in the paper. I want to talk about it."


Authority Manager Berry listens as Board Member Naylor discusses the propriety of the Hosp Auth Manager's comments.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  Monday night's Lake Shore Hospital Authority meeting blew by in 29 minutes, but not before Authority Chairman Waseem Khan disposed of the newly presented Authority "Rules of Protection", and not before Board member and former bank president, Bruce Naylor, questioned the propriety of Authority Manager, "Jack" Jackson P. Berry, commenting to the local paper about allegations presented on 60 Minutes.

60 Minutes reported on a yearlong investigation into allegations regarding outsized hospital admission quotas from Hospital Management Associates (HMA) emergency rooms. HMA leases Shands Lake Shore Hospital from the Authority. The Authority owns Shands Lake Shore.

More LSHA
stories are here.

HMA is the tenant of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority. The Authority acts only in an advisory capacity to HMA. HMA is not obligated to institute or enact any recommendation by the Authority Board or its Manager, Jack Berry.

Background


Former Bank President Bruce Naylor discusses Hosp Manager Berry's remarks to the newspaper.

On November 29th HMA conducted a conference call followed by a webcast on the following day to provide information regarding the 60 Minutes HMA segment, which was going to air two days later on Sunday, December 2, 2012.

Members of HMA management provided commentary and data to refute information the Company believed wrongly portrayed HMA in a negative light.

On Monday, December 3d, HMA's Investor Relations Department sent out a press release commenting on the 60 Minutes report, in which it denied any allegations of wrong doing. That press release can be found here.

Monday Night At the Lake Shore Hosp Auth


Board Chairman Waseem Khan was dismissive of Manager Berry's remarks.

After Board President Khan's dismissal of the "Rules of Protection", Board member Naylor jumped right in regarding the HMA press release that was handed out to the Board and was unknown to the public.

Mr. Naylor said, "I have a question." "Are we going to talk about this press release - this HMA press release?"

Caught by surprise, Manager Berry asked, "What question?"

Rhonda Sherrod, CEO of Shands Lake Shore replied, "You have the Health Management press release? It was requested. You have it."

Mr. Naylor, impatiently, "Do you want to talk about it? Are we just going to read it?"

HMA's Sherrod said she didn't have any further comment.

Not satisfied, Mr. Naylor said, "Well, Jack's in the paper, so I want to talk about it."


Shands Lake Shore's Sherrod (left) had nothing to say. (Stephanie Bushart of Shands at right)

Ms. Sherrod laughs nervously and both she and Manager Berry answer almost simultaneously, "OK."

Mr. Naylor addressed Manager Berry, "It turns out your comment about being “a baseless argument.”

Manager Berry jumped in, "I didn’t say it was baseless. I said it didn’t apply to our hospital."

Mr. Naylor stood his ground, "It said baseless in the paper."

Manager Berry denied it again, "That ain’t what I said."

Mr. Naylor answered, "No?"

What did the paper report?

Derek Gilliam, the new cub reporter for the Lake City Reporter, wrote the following in the December 4th edition of the Lake City Reporter (LCR):

Jack Berry, executive director of Lake Shore Hospital Authority ... said he watched the report and thinks the allegations are baseless.

After some conversation about the 60 Minute report and unsubstantiated admitting statistics at Shands by Manager Berry, Mr. Naylor said, "I told you this Friday. This is a publicly traded company. We’ve got to be real careful about what we say -- whether you believe it or you don’t believe it, or whatever. Their communications department is really responsible. We don’t have a communications policy at the Hospital Authority... This is a publicly traded company. That’s my only concern."


Board members Vann and Adams were non pulsed by Mr. Berry's remarks.

Manager Berry, "You want me to start respondin by press release? I don’t have any problem doin that."

Mr. Naylor asked, "What’s the company [HMA] say outside of what’s in writing there?"

Again, Ms. Sherrod declined comment, "Like I said, that is a response and I am not going to comment beyond what has been provided by our company."

Former Board Chairman, Koby Adams asked, "What's your point?"

This was followed by Board member Vann, "So what's the concern?"

Mr. Naylor answered, "The concern is that we might say something we shouldn't say... I think hospital matters need to be dealt with through their communications department... I’m just saying it’s a publicly traded company. You have got to be careful. That’s all..."

LSHA Attorney Feagle: "We are not authorized to speak for HMA"


Lake Shore Hospital Authority Marlin Feagle opined that the Authority should not be commenting on HMA matters.

Mr. Feagle told the Board that they shouldn't comment about HMA business, because  HMA is a tenant of the Authority and "we are not authorized to speak for HMA."

"My thought on this is that HMA was being investigated, not Lake Shore Hospital Authority, so we are not authorized to represent HMA."

Mr. Naylor said he thought that was good advice.

Board member Douglas said he agreed. (Mr. Berry cut him off)

How this came about according to Jack Berry?

Manager Berry told the board, "I got a call from the Lake City Reporter askin about it. If I’d seen it. I said I’ve seen it. And the first thing I did the next morning  was come in and talk to Rhonda [Sherrod] and ask her what our -- our grades were -- percentages were. And she told me and then they called me back that afternoon and I said -- I told em -- I said -- I don’t think it applies to our hospital."

Mr. Berry did not say who called him on Sunday night. It wasn't the reporter of the story.

Mr. Berry claimed he was worried about conspiracy theories.

A Columbia County Good Ole Boy Joke?

Mr. Naylor said he wanted to hear from the other board members.

Board member Koby Adams asked, "Now – you want to hear from us now?"

Everybody laughed.

Mr. Naylor finished, "Obviously, nobody is concerned about it, so let's just move on."

Epilogue

The Observer asked Manager Berry, via email, about the truth regarding the Berry remarks reported in the Lake City Reporter.

Mr. Berry did not respond.

The Lake Shore Hospital Board members are appointed by the Governor. Mr. Berry, a political operative and past Republican Chieftan, is appointed by the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board.

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