Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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LSHA: County Residents Should Be Able to Send a Message to the Legislature – Keep it or Dissolve It 

I and other residents have asked the County Commission to allow the County’s residents to send a message to the legislature regarding the dissolving of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority, a countywide independent special district that has lost his way.

In 1940 the population of Lake City was 5,836. During World War II a number of institutions were established to help with the war effort as well as those in Lake City. Lake Shore Hospital was dedicated in 1940 to provide medical care for those in the Lake City area.

In 1955 the Lake Shore Hospital District was created.

On July 10, 1963, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority was established by the Florida Legislature.

In 2005 the legislation was rewritten. It defined the purpose of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority: (8)(a) To furnish temporary relief to the indigent of Columbia County and study the cause of their poverty; to seek a plan for their permanent rehabilitation; generally, to assist them to support themselves whenever possible to the end that they may cease to be a charge upon the community and, instead, become useful citizens thereof; and to bury the indigent dead of Columbia County and provide cemeteries for that purpose

The legislation does not take into consideration the fact that the hospital is not operated by the Lake Shore Hospital Authority. The legislation did not address the fact that the Authority’s hospital is a leased facility.

Shands at Lake Shore, the name of the Authority hospital, is currently operated by Community Health Systems (CHS), a billion dollar corporation listed on the New York Stock exchange.

The citizens, the district’s taxpayers, should be given the opportunity to weigh in if they wish to continue to provide their tax dollars to the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board and its ownership of a subsidized and privately run hospital.

When Commissioner Murphy was on the LSHA Board he said he thought the hospital should be sold. LSHA Board members are spending tax payer’s dollars unnecessarily. The Board members are not being good stewards of the finances of this community. The taxpayers should not be supporting a for profit hospital.

As taxpayers, we have absolutely no input as to who sits on the LSHA Board. Its members are political appointees of the governor.

It is unfair that taxes are levied against us and we have not elected the board members that impose them.

CHS has a triple net lease with the Hospital Authority. The Authority's attorney has stated that according to the terms of the lease between the Authority and CHS, the Authority is not obligated to pay for maintenance. 

Commissioner Murphy, who has shown no inclination to give the people a voice regarding the Authority, has asked if I contacted my local government representatives. I did: in 2017 and 2018 at the legislative delegation session. I have contacted Senator Bradley office and former Authority Board member Koby Adams, Representative Elizabeth Porter's Chief of Staff, was aware of my concerns.  

The LSHA needs to go away. The LSHA needs to be dissolved. This can only be done by an Act of the Legislature. The County Commissioners are empowered to place on the ballot a question to see if citizens want to have the Authority dissolved. This would send a message to the legislature.

Citizens have the right to send a message to the legislature.  The County Commissioners need to place this on the ballot so Columbia County's citizens can be heard.

This is the American Way.

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