Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007


Governor Scott's LSHA Board Votes to Subsidize CHS, America's Largest Hospital Corporation

More LSHA stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Monday's March 12, 2018 meeting of Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board memorialized its October 9, 2017 vote to rebuild the County owned privately run Emergency Department of Shands at Lake Shore. The October 19 vote ran contrary to the iron fisted Authority Manager Jack Berry's recommendation and he submitted his resignation the next day, claiming various health issues.

October 9, 2017
Keeping the Public in the Dark

The October 9 meeting agenda was prepared by Authority Manager Berry. It was supposed to be approved by Chairman Koby Adams, but there are no initials or anything that shows that Mr. Adams saw the agenda before he gaveled the October 9 meeting to order.

The agenda stated the following under new business: "Discuss Capital Improvements at Hospital."

While the supporting information showed that the discussion topics were a new roof, repairing the outside of the hospital building, and a new emergency room-department, there was absolutely no indication that anything more than a discussion was planned.

Manager Berry began the discussion:

"We did the roof in 2008 or 2009 on the main hospital, or we gave Shands the money to do the roof. I was supervisin'.  Supposedly, there was a warranty on that roof. I have not been able to obtain a warranty on that roof and I've asked for it several occasions..."

"In 2013 the hospital has a TLC [engineering] report done. Depicted the same things. 2016, the Sightline [engineering] report, depicting the same things. Promises made in this meeting. One instance in 2013 was that the roof on this on the one story medical plaza building would be replaced for 2015. It has not been."

"The hospital is doing just as little maintenance and preventive maintenance on that buildin' as they possible can and get away with it. And this Board's let em' get away with it. The times come that somethin' has to be done, especially with the roof and the exterior of the buildin'."

"If not, you gonna' have a serious problem within the next 12 months... It's come time that this board's gonna' have to make a decision: are you gonna' enforce the lease? ... I have also given you an opinion from Mr. Koberlein clearly stating that it's the hospital responsibility to do all these things, but they have not done em'." (This opinion was not made available to the public with the meeting material, which is in opposition to the law).

"The time has come that this board needs to make a decision, enforce the lease, or if you are goin' to throw the lease out the window, give em' tax money and let them do whatever they wanna' do."

Board member Janet Creel asked, "Who paid for the roof in 2008?"

Manager Berry responded, "This board did."

Ms. Creel asked, "Why did we not follow up and find out why its never been fixed?"

Shands CEO Rhonda Sherrod and CFO Steve Davis observe as Mr. Berry blasts them.

Mr. Berry followed up, "We thought the roof had been repaired. And supposedly O'Neal [O'Neal Roofing] did it. And supposedly there was a 20 year warranty on this. But I have not been able to find a copy of the warranty. I asked O'Neal for it and I've also asked Denby [Maintenance Dir. for Shands] for it... They took the money to replace it, but they repaired it. And there wasn't any follow up."

Denby responded, "The roof on the main building that O'Neal did was done prior to me getting here in 2007. I have here that in 2007 the roof was done... In 2013 we replaced about 35% of the roofs with new roofs."

CHS/Shands CEO Sherrod Responds

Ms. Sherrod: "First of all, to say that we want the Authority to hold up their end of the lease and we don't want to is false. That's not true at all... We absolutely want to abide by the lease... Our proposal is this. We ask that the Authority fund the envelope and the roof. We ask that you fund the ER Department expansion."

Chairman Adams called for a vote on the roof and envelope (outside of the building repair). It passed unanimously.

Shands/CHS CEO Rhonda Sherrod shows the Board a design for a rebuilt ER.

Then, after about twenty minutes of presentation and discussion regarding the Emergency Department and the emergency room, Board member Dr. Waseem Khan made the following motion: "I'm going to make a motion that we fund the ER expansion. Estimated cost 7.2 mil."

Board member Chancy was the only "no" vote.

March 12, 2018
Board Chair Beil: "There was an issue."

After the March 12 meeting got underway, Board Chairman Beil explained there was an issue with the October 9, 2017 Board vote to build a new $7.2 mil ER. He asked contract attorney Fred Koberlein to explain.

Fred Koberlein           (file)

Mr. Koberlein [as spoken]: I advised the current tenant through Ms. Sherrod, a month ago, maybe two months ago, I don't remember exactly when our conversation was at that time while discussing leases. And I advised Mr. Berry, after learning that Dr. Khan -- his resignation was in place after the Governor's Office correspondence that the vote was procedurally incorrect at that time. And so if the Board wishes to move further it's something you need to do in your vote."

It wasn't clear if this was legalese or a way for lawyer Koberlein to evade a comprehensible answer.

Board Member Dr. Mark Thompson asked, "And that has to do with residence or something like that?"

Attorney Koberlein responded, "I don't have any comment on the residency -- what he was doing -- he simply moved the motion -unintelligible- and then the chairperson was the second -- second movant and the final I'll state that the chair should not even vote until a tie."

Chairman Beil added, "Just to clarify, I was just elected chair that night."

Attorney Koberlein offered no explanation concerning his lack of advice to the Board that the Chair does not vote, unless to break a tie."

See the requirements of the triple net lease.

After ten minutes of discussion that mostly had nothing to do with the ER renovation, newly appointed Jay Swisher made a motion to fund the roof, the envelope, and ER expansion.

After Chairman Beil explained that the roof and envelope were already passed, Mr. Swisher modified his motion to fund the ER.

Only Board member Chancy was opposed, explaining that she was against funding the renovation at 100 percent "at this time."


Related Articles:
Lake Shore Hospital Authority Digs In Competition Out
June 15, 2010
Lake Shore Hosp Authority floating on a sea of cash
Sept 20, 2010

Between 2003 and 2010, the hospital was run by the nonprofit Shands at Lake Shore, Inc. Then, after taking a circuitous path of backroom deals, assignments-reassignments-corporate changes, the lessee, the folks that currently run the hospital, became Community Health Systems (CHS), a Fortune 500 company, the largest provider of general hospital healthcare services in the Unites States.

Columbia County's taxpayer's, including the Lake City Medical Center, which just paid millions for its own ER and other renovations, will now pay to rebuild the Emergency Department for the exclusive use of CHS, while continuing to help fund CHS indigent care costs.

Shands at Lake Shore is not a community hospital. It is a hospital building owned and subsidized by Columbia County taxpayers for the benefit of CHS, the largest hospital corporation in America.

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