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Lake Shore Hospital Authority

LSHA: Meridian Deal for Vacated Hospital Lingering. CEO Don Savoie MIA.

Photo: Salvator Tonnara via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

More LSHA stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The saga of the vacated Shands at Lake Shore Hospital buildings and all the remaining Authority property continues to roll merrily along. The December 11 Lake Shore Hospital Authority Governor’s Board meeting once again had Meridian CEO Don Savoie MIA.

Shortly after the meeting got underway, Barbara Lemley asked that the public be allowed to comment when the items come up “because I don’t know what you guys are going to say [or do].”

Ms. Lemley's request was not unreasonable as SB 50 (2013) gave the public the right "to be heard on a proposition before a board or commission.”

The Governor’s Board agenda had many items which were introduced by: “Discussion and possible action (if necessary).”

Board member Don Kennedy objected to Ms. Lemley’s request. Mr. Kennedy said the Board should follow its agenda.

Mr. Kennedy didn’t know the law.

Attorney Todd Kennon advised, "Obviously if there's a motion made, you have to allow public after the motion."

Mr. Kennedy was so dead set against having the public comment once they knew what was happening (he said the Board could take notes) that he moved that the Board not deviate from the evening's agenda. Former Board Chairman Brandon Beil seconded the motion. Mr. Beil’s proponency of SB 50 has been iffy at best.

After a brief discussion, Mr. Kennedy withdrew his motion.

Joy Stevens addresses the Lake Shore Hospital Authority
Listen or download Ms. Stevens' remarks here.

Meridian: Still, nobody has anything good to say

As in the previous meeting, Joy Stevens once again spoke about the below substandard level of Meridian care and against Meridian being gifted the Authority’s vacated hospital building.

Ms. Stevens suffered at the hands of Meridian in Lake City, as have others. It has become apparent from the comments received at the Authority and from folks that this reporter has received over time that Meridian is just covering up the errors of its ways with slick videos and smooth talking.

Ms. Stevens told the Board: “We may only be ‘emotional shrapnel’ in Don’s [Meridian CEO Don Savoie] eyes. But you know what? We are human beings; we have feelings; we have hearts, so we do exist. I'm here once again urging the Board to please keep in consideration the things that were heard at the last Lake Shore Hospital Authority meeting regarding the treatment of patients and clinicians. Please do not forget their stories that told about the abuse that we suffered at the hands of Meridian Behavioral Healthcare. This is only a few of the thousands of people in the surrounding communities who have had horrible experiences with Meridian.”

Don Savoie on YouTubeThe “emotional shrapnel” remark was from a recent Meridian YouTube video promotional piece (Meridian-Brand Anchor) in which Mr. Savoie made the following statement, “The staff at Meridian give of their hearts every day. They deal with emotional shrapnel from our patients.”

We have spoken to professionals and others about the Savoie "emotional shrapnel" remark. No one knew what he was talking about, but the opinions were "it wasn't good or nice."

45 Minutes into the Meeting, Meridian Comes Up

Authority Manager Dale Williams said Meridian “accepted the perpetual lease,” although there is nothing written from Meridian that shows Meridian has accepted a reverter clause that ends in  perpetuity.

Attorney Kennon said the Meridian Board had not approved the perpetual reverter clause in the lease.

Mr. Beil asked, "Are we giving the building to Meridian?"

Board member Chancy said, “I have not changed my stance. I do not prefer Meridian to have the building.”

Board member Kennedy did another of his "I want to make a motion." This one was to give Meridian the vacated hospital without everything being agreed to in the contract.

Mr. Beil seconded the motion.

Attorney Kennon didn’t understand the motion.

Mr. Kennedy restated his motion: “Purchase or sale of real property, Lake Shore Hospital building – period. That’s my motion.”

Mr. Beil seconded Mr. Kennedy’s motion. Nobody bothered to withdraw the previous motion and second.

Board member Chancy said it is “not a sale.” “It is a gifting.”

Mr. Beil said, “It is an agreement for purchase and sale – for zero dollars.”

Your reporter asked if any Board member other than Mr. Beil had ex parte communication with Meridian CEO Don Savoie or anyone else from Meridian.

After a brief conversation with the attorney, Mr. Beil stated that his conversation was "pretty much" legal. No board members revealed any conversations with Mr. Savoie, who no longer shows up at LSHA meetings.

Mr. Kennedy changed his motion again.

Ms. Chancy said she wants answers.

Ms. Chancy said, “I’m not accustomed to doing something in the blind.”

Mr. Kennedy’s new motion failed. Ms. Chancy voted nay.

An hour and twenty minutes into the meeting, Ms. Chancy decided to make a motion and then didn’t.

Finally, after two hours, the Board made a motion to deal with the parking lot in front of the hospital and to give Meridian until the next meeting to answer if they would accept the perpetual reverter.

No One Is Talking About the Quality of Meridian Care

With the vacated Authority hospital still on the chopping block and seemingly headed to Meridian, no one is talking about Meridian's behavioral health care quality. While professionals and Meridian clients generally have nothing good to say, the Authority Board, other than Board member Chancy, is the only one who has mentioned it.

After the meeting was mercifully adjourned after 2 hours and 15 minutes, Board member Don Kennedy asked your reporter if he had spoken with medical professionals about Meridian.

Mr. Kennedy said he had, and they were supportive of Meridian. Your reporter asked who they were. Mr. Kennedy left the building without further comment.


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