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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Auth: Righting a Listing Ship,  Part I: New Director Taking on Neglected Repairs

Columbia County, FL – With Republican Operative and former Lake Shore Hospital Authority Manager and Board Chairman Jackson P. "Jack" Berry gone from the Authority with most of his cronies, the task of straightening out a mess that has been brewing since the mid 2000's has been left to the new leadership of Executive Director Dale Williams and Board Chairman Brandon Beil.

Background

Shands at Lake Shore (Shands) is the Hospital building owned by the Florida legislature established Lake Shore Hospital Authority. In 2010, in a deal with then Health Management Associates (HMA) a private for profit corporation, the hospital lease was assigned from the not-for-profit Shands to HMA.

In 2013, HMA was purchased by Community Health Systems (CHS) for approximately $3.6 billion in cash and stock. With the merger, CHS became the largest for profit hospital operator (ranked by number of hospitals) in the United States.

Its CEO, Wayne T. Smith, was reported by Forbes in 2012 to have earned in total compensation $16.17 mil, with a 5 year total of $54.72 mil.

The hospital remained Shands at Lake Shore.

Capital Projects

Capital projects going back to the early 2000's have long been a source of friction between the Authority and Shands. Concurrent with the onset of Jack Berry and the use of Authority funds for urban renewal, property acquisition and demolition, and the building of a million dollar plus monolithic headquarters to house two employees, the maintenance of the hospital has been a source of enhanced friction.

July 23, 2018
The Authority's Emergency Meeting

On Monday morning July 23 at 9 am, the Authority met for an emergency meeting. The emergency meeting notice showed three agenda items. The meeting agenda posted on the Authority website and distributed at the meeting showed two items. The topics of discussion all had to do with the roof at the Authority owned hospital, which goes under a couple of names, the easiest of which is Shands at Lake Shore.

The Board's meeting rules, enacted during the rubber stamp realm of then Authority Manager Jack Berry in 2013, and  chaired at the time by Dr. Waseem Khan, who in contravention of state law, resided in Alachua County, had no mechanism to add/delete agenda items or approve the agenda.

Chairman Brandon Beil gaveled Monday's meeting to order and invited County resident and property owner Barbara Lemley to make her public comments.

Shands had recently installed an million dollar piece of high tech equipment in the part of the building with a leaky roof.

Ms. Lemley asked, "Why isn't Shands participating in the cost for this. If they knew the roof leaked, why would this expensive piece of equipment be placed in the area which they knew leaked?"

No one asked the representative from Shands to explain.

Chairman Biel responded, "We decided that it was a replacement, not a repair."

One of the items on the emergency agenda gave Board Chairman Beil the authority to approve change orders for the roof/envelope construction project being undertaken by the Authority.

Your reporter, who is also a property owner in the County, addressed that issue with the Board and recommended that change orders be approved by a two step process: "the Chairman authorizes the change if it cannot wait; the Board then approves it, so that the public is aware that everything is upfront, above board and in the sunshine."

If approved, the resolution would give the chairman the power to approve unlimited change orders up to $25,000 each.

Chairman Beil said that Mr. Koberlein recommend the change orders be put on the consent agenda.

Good government practice is that consent agenda items are for ministerial items: approving minutes and repeat payments such as phone bills and things like that.

The approval of an emergency change order(s) which could be $25,000 is clearly not a ministerial item and does not belong on a consent agenda.

Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr., who claims to be a municipal law expert, again demonstrated that he is neither a fan of good government nor meaningful accountability.

In Part II we look at the the emergency resolution and Attorney Koberlein's take on basic parliamentary procedure.

* Correction: References to Rick Scott and HCA were removed.

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