Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hosp Authority

Lake Shore Hosp Auth: Jack Berry Takes Credit Lake City Reporter Prints Lie

Ex Employee: "You published lies in your paper"

Hospital Authority Manager Jackson P. "Jack" Berry.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Florida's Lake Shore Hospital Authority and Hospital Authority Manager, Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, with the help of Columbia County's cheerleading community newspaper, the Lake City Reporter (LCR), known as the Lake City Distorter – among other things, has a historical problem separating fact from fiction. While Sunday's LCR report of the Authority saving $6mil might be half-true, the report of Authority Manager Berry beginning the Authority's prescription program is a lie.

More LSHA stories are here.

Sunday's Lake City Reporter article began, "Lake Shore Hospital Authority has saved Columbia County taxpayers more than $6 million since 2011 by lowering the millage rate after it made indigent care more effective and cost-effective."

Millions In the Bank: tax reduction a subject for debate

At the end of 2009, Jack Berry was the Authority Chairman. The Authority was sitting on a stash of cash of $6,900,000. Chairman Berry and the rest of the Authority Board could have lowered the taxes, but raised them instead. Board members Marc Vann and Dr. Waseem Khan were on that Board and voted for the tax increase.

By budget time 2010, the Authority was now floating on an $8,455,000 sea of cash. Fat, with plenty of the public's money in the bank, the Board had hired the now ex-chairman Berry, the long time Republican operative and former Repo-Man, to be its part time manager, awarding him a compensation package worth $60,000 a year for 24 hours of work per week.

It was clear that the Board could have reduced taxes from 1.5 mils. It didn't, even though its estimated ending cash hoard was $8,696,599. Present board members Marc Vann, Lory Chancey, Koby Adams, and Waseem Khan, MD voted to maintain the the 1.5 mil tax rate.

In 2011, the Authority's governor appointed board, which is answerable to no one in Columbia County, began spending some of its accumulated cash hoard for tax reductions.

Manager Berry and the Board now give Mr. Berry the credit for the lower millage (tax) rate. It is true that a year after he became Manager the millage rate went down. How much of that decrease was a result of Mr. Berry's actions is clearly a subject for debate.

The Drug Prescription Program: timeline - the facts

Sue Fraze to the Lake City Reporter, "You published lies in your newspaper."

The Lake City Reporter's reporting that Manager Berry was responsible for the Authority's Drug Prescription Program is plainly not true.

An examination of Hospital Authority records going back to 2002 clearly shows that Mr. Berry had absolutely nothing to do with the Drug Prescription Program and that the drug prescription program was established by former Authority employee, Sue Fraze, who in 2002 was responsible for the running of the day to day business of the Authority.

In 2006, at the time Mr. Berry was on the Board, a generic prescription drug program called Project Outreach was approved by the Board and facilitated by Ms. Fraze.

Through 2007, Ms. Fraze worked on the prescription drug program. Ms. Fraze coordinated a program for the Authority's indigent clients with Walmart.

In late 2009, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board instigated a procedure which enabled Mr. Berry, who was experiencing severe financial difficulties, to resign and then to become the Authority Manager.  

On September 14, 2009, Board Chairman Berry announced he would be resigning from the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board effective October 9, 2009.

On October 12, 2009, Board member Waseem Khan distributed an executive director job description.

Seven months later, on April 15, 2010, as expected, Mr. Berry became the part-time Manager of the Authority.

During Mr. Berry's absence, Sue Fraze, who was now the feared underling of Manager Berry, had developed a Drug Prescription Program utilizing some of Lake City's pharmacies.

On May 10, 2010, three weeks after beginning his job, Mr. Berry presented the Fraze developed prescription drug program to the Authority.

A month later, Mr. Berry reported that Ms. Fraze had secured a grant for the software used in the program.

The Lake City Reporter: the lie

In the October 12, 2014 edition of the Lake City Reporter, reporter Sarah Loftus reported the following: in 2010, he [Berry] started a prescription program with local pharmacists call the RX program.

The Observer spoke with Ms. Fraze, the former 18 year Authority veteran, who was recently fired under suspicious circumstances by Manager Berry .

Your reporter asked, "Ms. Fraze, did you read the article in Sunday's Lake City Reporter regarding Jack Berry and the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Drug Prescription Program?"

Ms. Fraze responded, "Yes I did. I was numb."

The Observer, "Could you please explain."

Ms. Fraze, "This gets me heated. I started the RX Program. It was around 2008. It was with Walmart. In early 2010, Board Chairman Marc Vann suggested we use local vendors. I contacted local pharmacists and I pretty much duplicated the Wal-Mart program. The program was in place by May of 2010. Jack Berry did not begin work at the Authority until April 15, 2010."

Ms. Fraze continued, "Jack had nothing to do with it. It was like somebody hit me in the stomach."

The Observer asked, "Did the Lake City Reporter ever contact you regarding this article?"

Ms. Fraze answered, "No. I just want to tell them 'you published lies in your paper'."


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