Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Lake Shore Hospital Authority

Lake Shore Hospital Authority Digs In Competition Out

Lake City Medical Center's attorney, Stephen Ecenia (at far right), address the non pulsed good old boys of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority. Mr. Ecenia told the authority that it was not fair, not legal and not in the best interests of the residents of Columbia County that the Lake City Medical Center did not have a chance to compete for the tax revenue of the Authority.

It was business as usual in Columbia County last night as the good old boys of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority dug in and turned their backs on going out to get the best deal for the residents of Columbia County at the County Owned Hospital, Shands at Lakeshore.

Explanations of the law fell on the usual deaf ears.

Shands has been losing money for some time, a fact that until recently has been kept secret from the residents of the county. It is obvious that the Lake Shore Hospital Authority "the Authority" knew about the financial deficits and this was part of the reason that Authority Chairman, Marc Vann has admittedly been involved in the negotiations with Shands for over a year.

That the Authority Board never authorized Mr. Vann or his predecessor, Mr. Berry to negotiate with anyone is just the good old boy way the legendary Columbia County does the people's business.

The cozy relationship between the Authority, Authority Chairman Berry and Shands had been obvious for some time, but the January approval by the Authority of $124,000 to replace pipes at the hospital, which was clearly the responsibility of Shands, ended up being funded by the working families of Columbia County with a wink, nod and good old boy shrug. This was a nice carrot for the "White Nights" from Hospital Management Associates (HMA), the for profit corporation that was working behind the scenes to take over Shands at Lakeshore and get its hands on the indigent care revenue stream flowing from the pockets of Columbia County's working families.

It is impossible to know whether or not the residents of Columbia County are getting a good deal, because it has only been a one horse race.

Lake City's Lake City Medical Center was never given a chance to make any proposal and said they did not find out about the Shands – HMA deal until everybody else did – surely not an accident.

Of course, no other hospital corporation was given a chance to make a proposal to the good old boys at the Lake Shore Hospital Authority.

The way it stands now, unless someone takes the Authority to court, no one ever will get a chance to make the working families of Columbia County a better deal and that is just the way the good old boys that run the show like it.

The Authority has scheduled a continuation of their Monday night meeting for this Friday afternoon at 1 pm. The purpose – to approve yet another incarnation of the biggest sweetheart deal in the history of good old boys of Columbia County, unless of course you count the Ellisville Utility Boondoggle.

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