Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hospital Authority

LSHA: 4 Years, $3 Mil Later, Down to 16 Clients, the Gov’s Illegal Board Is Handing Off the Latest Batch of Prospects to Manager Dale Williams

Lake Shore Hospital Authority: Manager Dale Williams - lead photo
AI Image by 1tamara2 via Pixabay | Columbia County Observer graphic and photo

More LSHA stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Monday evening's May 13 Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board meeting once again demonstrated the dysfunction of Governor DeSantis's appointed Board. Under the leadership of former longtime Columbia County Manager Dale Williams, the Board has, among other things, seen the number of Hospital Authority clients drop 91.4% (187 to 16) since Dale Williams took over managing the Authority.

Around 2010, when strong man Jackson P. "Jack" Berry was running the Authority, Shands at Lake Shore had the chance to become a teaching hospital. It didn't. Shands, bleeding money to the tune of $1,000,000 a year, walked away, and Community Health Systems (CHS) leased the hospital.

In early 2020, CHS advised the Authority it was planning to buy out its lease and walk away. It did, and by October 2020, CHS was gone. CHS left tens of thousands of dollars in inventory, aka, hospital beds and equipment, which had a stunted inventory directed by Manager Williams. The inventory was never valued and has been depreciating since 2020.

The Authority has been operating outside its enabling legislation, which requires “One member shall be a physician engaged in the practice of medicine at the Lake Shore Hospital.”

"One member shall" is not discretionary. The Authority refuses to obtain an opinion from the Florida Attorney General regarding the legality of its continuing operation without the mandatory hospital doctor on the Board. Shands at Lake Shore is closed – out of business. Authority Manager Williams said that he was told from Tallahassee that it was OK that a physician from Shands at Lake Shore was not on the Board, contrary to the legislation, but no one in Tallahassee would own it.

A detailed time line of the LSHA is here: LSHA: With an Illegally Constituted Board, Part-Time Exec Dir Dale Williams Wants to Begin Searching for a Hospital Tennant All Over Again

What Does the LSHA Decrease in Clients Look Like

In the five years since North Florida legend Dale Williams has been at the helm of the Authority, its client base has eroded 91.4% (187 to 16).

5 year lsha statistics

While Dale Williams is wheeling and dealing out of the public eye for an independent pharmacy in one of the Authority's vacant buildings, a look at the numbers shows that in March 2024, it was reported that the Authority's pharmacy program served one Authority client. A look at the pharmacy clients shows that between 2021 and 2024, the average number of pharmacy clients served was 13 per month.

The cost of keeping the vacant buildings vacant since October 2020, averaged yearly by the month, has been $77,764 per month.

The grand total spent on vacant buildings since October 2020 has been $2,980,804. This number does not include the legal fees, which are impossible to figure out because of attorney budling, which, while frowned upon, is ignored by the Governor's Board and the Authority Manager.

The latest RFP

The latest LSHA Request for Proposal (RFP), really a request for statements of interest (SOI), didn't ask for much. Not asked for were financial statements, references, income tax returns for those not for profits, current business licenses, or even a business plan. Imagine going to a bank and asking for money or a lease for a building without a business plan or financial statement.

The Authority asked for three things:

1.    What our/my intended use of the building would be.

2.    What our/my plans would be to increase the availability and accessibility of healthcare to the citizens of Columbia County.

3.    A statement regarding our/my healthcare experience.

Responses to the RFP were to be provided either in a sealed envelope or emailed.

Manager Williams said it was OK to email responses, and the language he used was the state's.

Your reporter made a public record request for that language. The request has not been acknowledged.

The Responses

The responses provided to the Authority ran the gamut from really-really vague, to vague, to extensive narrative but with no plan.

Manager Williams announced during the meeting that he will now meet with those that stated an interest. He explained he tried to look into what the respondents were looking for. He said, “I do not know right now what it takes to assist Lucretia [Supreme Xtreme Mobile Lab] or what she's looking for. I do not know what is required for the birthing center. I'm not specifically sure what Florida A&M may bring to the table.”

None of the Governor’s Board asked why those questions were not included in the RFP.

Manager Williams reiterated, “We're going to try to find out specifically what each one of these entities is seeking… We will not preclude any of them from speaking directly to trustees [and they] are welcome to come make presentations if they agree with us.”

The Governor’s Board did not ask for public presentations.

Individual meetings with the trustees are problematic, and the responders' sanctioned lobbying of the trustees appears to be against the law and flies in the face of transparency.

Manager Williams told the Governor’s Board, “I believe the process has been somewhat open and fair from the beginning.”

Manager Williams did not explain the meaning of “somewhat open and fair.” None of the trustees asked.


During the meeting, former Board Chair Brandon Beil said about finding tenants or operators for the Authority, "I don't want this to drag on forever."

The abandonment of Shands at Lake Shore Hospital began in or around March of 2020. It is now May 2024, and $3 million later, things are still dragging on.

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