Madison County Memorial Hospital has cancelled the Pig in the Park Bar-B-Que contest scheduled for Friday, April 20, during Down Home Days. The contest was sponsored by the hospital.
Tag Archive for madison county memorial hospital
By David Abercrombie, MCMH CEO
The process of selecting a general contractor to build the new hospital is somewhat long. First, the District board had to decide whether to use a Lump Sum bid process (the conventional method) or go with a Contractor at Risk (C@R) process. They chose the C@R process because it guarantees a maximum price (GMP). If the project goes over the GMP the contractor “eats” the difference. But really the C@R method of construction has several advantages.
With the conventional Lump Sum approach, the contractor is selected based on low price bid. There is no open book budget and if there is any savings it goes to the contractor, not the owner. In my way of thinking, this can encourage a company to cut corners with quality. Another disadvantage of the Lump Sum Approach is that the owner has no control over subcontractor qualifications; nor does the owner have the ability to fast track the project.
With the C@R process, the Hospital District board selects the contractor based on qualifications and a negotiated fee. There is also the advantage of open book accounting. There is the ability to pre-purchase building supplies and services so if there is a saving on the project it is returned to the owner. There is also much greater owner input into the construction schedule.
The USDA approved using the C@R construction method on March 3, 2011, pending their approval of a selection process based on free and open competition and agreement by the USDA in the actual selection of the contractor.
The District sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find construction companies interested in building the new hospital. Seven major general contracting firms from around the state responded. They were from Tallahassee and surrounding area, Gainesville, Orlando and Jacksonville. The companies submitted very detailed proposals. There were nine key parts to each proposal. An example of a key part is: how the contractor intends to advertise for, qualify, and use subcontractors.
A meeting was then set up with the USDA at their Lake City office to discuss the qualification of the contracting firms who submitted proposals, and to go over the process that would be used to select the contractor. The USDA brought in the head of their architectural office from Gainesville, as well as their regional director, to go over the materials and participate in the discussion. The USDA approved all the companies who submitted proposals. The head USDA architect told hospital representatives that the process was proceeding exactly right.
The District board then spent about 10 days reading the seven proposals. A selection grid was developed to score each key part of each proposal. On May 17, a quorum of board members met in an open meeting and participated in the scoring. The key parts of each proposal were given a number from lowest to highest. Each Board member scored all nine key parts included in all seven different proposals. These scores were counted and the contractor with the highest number of points was put at the top of the list. The contractor with the second highest number was put at number two, and so on.
The Board decided to interview those companies with the four highest scores. The four companies were (in alphabetical order) Ajax, Batson-Cook, Childers/Culpepper and Robbins & Morton.
Representatives from each of these four companies were asked to attend a face-to-face interview to defend their proposals. Another scoring grid was developed. A quorum of district board members participated in the open interview on June 6th and once again gave numeric scores, this time based on the key parts of their proposal defense.
The two total scores (from the proposal and from the interview) were added together to get a total score for each company. The four companies were listed from the highest total score to the lowest total score. The interview questions and other materials and documents were then hand-carried (for the purpose of speed) to the USDA in Lake City for their review.
On July 6, the USDA sent the Hospital District a letter stating that “…the USDA/RD concurs that the selected CM [construction management] firm is qualified for the job and the hospital has gone through the appropriate process and proper due diligence for the selection as required by RD [Rural Development] instructions.” The District immediately began negotiations with the high scoring company, Culpepper/Childers of Tallahassee. Culpepper/Childress is a joint venture between two big and stable companies with 80 and 47 years’ building experience respectively. Their projects encompass nearly 80 healthcare projects, including work for Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare System, Capital Regional Medical Center, and Archbold Memorial Hospital.
The negotiations with Culpepper/Childress are not yet complete, but are expected to be completed this week. Should negotiations not be successful, then negotiations will begin with the contracting company with the second highest total points scored. As you see, the process is a highly weighted process performed at arms-length with the oversight of the USDA. It’s a good process and I think the Board has selected an excellent company to build your new hospital.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The County Commission approved an amendment to the interlocal agreement between Madison County and its incorporated municipalities to allow a portion of the proceeds form the local option sales tax to go to the Madison County Memorial Hospital to help defray the cost of indigent care provided by the Hospital.
County Attorney Tom Reeves explained the interlocal agreement process step by step as to how it was structured, and how it governed the use of monies collected through the local option sales tax, then explained the process by which the county had been able to refinance a loan for completed road infrastructure work, freeing up the money that was to go to the hospital. Marianne Green asked for clarification and assurance that the money was to go only for indigent care and not for any other purpose, and that the indigent care thus paid for was only for Madison County residents. County Court Clerk Tim Sanders assured all those present that the Clerk’s Office would be responsible for the money and any payments made to the hospital for indigent care, and that the hospital would provide invoices for such payments.
The board also approved allowing the hospital to lease part of the old EMS building for storage desperately needed for hospital records and to use as a staging area for when the hospital begins making the switch-over from the old to the new facility. AHCA requires that the hospital run both the old and new facilities in parallel until the new facility is approved and permission is given to shut down the old facility. During that time, rather than buy duplicates of needed equipment and extra beds, the hospital plans to borrow these items from other regional hospitals – a common practice among hospitals whenever a replacement facility has been built and is awaiting approval – and it needs a staging area both to receive the borrowed items and later to store them until they can be returned once the old facility is closed.
The question of security for the aging EMS building came up, and hospital CEO David Abercrombie agreed that the hospital would take responsibility for securing the building, whether it was by installing deadbolt locks or putting up chain-link fencing.
How financially feasible do you feel the new hospital will be and what means will be used to maintain it?
By David Abercrombie, MCMH CEO
It is feasible to build a new hospital because financing has already been found and the method to pay back the loan has also been found and arranged.
In September 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture/Rural Development (USDA) obligated $22,543,400 to loan to the Madison County Health and Hospital District (District) for the purpose of building a new hospital and buying the equipment and furnishings that go inside. The money will be paid back to the USDA by the District over a span of forty years at a rate of interest of about 3.75%.
Before agreeing to make the loan to the District the USDA required that an accounting firm be engaged to determine if a new hospital would be financially feasible. The USDA does not allow hospitals to pick just any firm to conduct this study. It had to be a firm with experience doing this and one already on a list of “approved” firms. The District engaged EideBaily (EB) of North Dakota to perform this study. The USDA’s national office in Washington concluded that EideBaily was well known by the USDA, had done many USDA financial feasibility projects, and is well respected for their work. They were approved to do the job.
Two years later EB completed the study. It was found that the annual cost (like the mortgage on a house) would be $1,200,000 a year. The EB study also found that payment to the hospital for services provided to its Medicare patients would increase by about $630,000 a year. This is because the federal government structures payments to critical access hospitals in a way to encourage replacing out-of-date rural hospital buildings.
Additionally, back in November, 2006, the citizens of Madison County voted themselves a ½ cent sales tax to help pay the costs of replacing the hospital with a new hospital. This amount comes to roughly $470,000-$500,000 a year. It is kept in an account controlled by the Clerk of Court.
At this point, we have to stop and do some quick addition: $630,000 a year in increased Medicare collections + $470,000 a year in Madison County Sales Tax = $1,100,000. At this point in our math, we’re still $100,000 short of the amount needed to pay the $1,200,000 annual mortgage.
The federal government has required that all hospitals across the country install an electronic health record (EMR) system by the Year 2015. To help make it financially doable, the federal government will pay these hospitals a total of about $1,500,000 spread over four years ($375,000 a year).
If hospitals don’t comply with this new federal law, then in the Year 2015-16 Medicare will start withholding about 20% of payments to these hospitals for their provision of services to their Medicare patients.
So, the District has no choice but to implement this EMR system. Fortunately for the people of Madison, this EMR is already part of building a new hospital! You can’t operate a hospital without a computer system any more than you can operate a bank without a computer system.
Time for us to do more math: $1,100,000 from Medicare and Sales tax + $375,000 Reimbursement for the EMR system = $1,475,000. This is more than enough “guaranteed” money to pay the annual “mortgage” cost of a new hospital. So in answer to the question, “Is it financially feasible to build a new hospital?” The answer is “Yes.”
The more important part of today’s question is, “…and what means will be used to maintain it?” This second part of the question doesn’t have a clear answer because it is based on unknowable things. Being able to maintain it will rely on our good planning, good execution of the plans, and the hope that something significant doesn’t change. It also relies on a belief in people of Madison County. The belief that good medicine put in a good modern building will be supported. After all, the Mayo Clinic would fail if no one chose to support it.
About fifty percent of all this hospital’s patients are Medicare patients. We believe this new hospital can be financially maintained because its floor plan design maximizes the amount of money Medicare pays the hospital for its services. The more square footage in the building set aside for patient care and the less square footage designed for support areas, the more money Medicare will pay the hospital. The opposite is also true – the more space used for support areas and less used for patient care, then the less money Medicare will pay the hospital for its services.
The current hospital was designed back in 1953-54. It is an example of too little space set aside for patient care. This new hospital will give a greater part of its space for patient care. This switch of square footage will increase the amount of money collected from Medicare. The building will be energy efficient, with a cutting edge air conditioning and heating design that is so modern that it is the first approved for hospital use in Florida.
There will also be many service line improvements that are not possible in the current building. These improvements to patient services are estimated to increase the annual cash collections of the hospital by about $1,000,000 each year. Over the course of three to five years AFTER the hospital is built, more patient care additions and improvements are planned. Their descriptions are too detailed for the purposes of today’s article, but they will greatly improve healthcare in Madison County. They should also result in sizable increases in hospital revenue and the hospital’s economic impact contribution to the local economy.
I cannot over-emphasize that to succeed the people of Madison County must use their hospital rather than someone else’s. The actual success or failure of this new hospital will lie directly in the hands of us citizens of our county. In my view, we may either act as if we have a county-wide inferiority complex believing Madison County isn’t capable of delivering good medical care; or we will act with that same pride and support that propelled our little league baseball team and our high school football team to win State championships. Is it something in the water that makes these teams successful? Heck no! It’s because we believed those kids could do anything – and we supported them.
The county commission voted 3-2 to give half a cent from the surtax originally enacted to build the new jail to the hospital for indigent care. Commissioners Ellis, Hamrick and Vickers voted for the measure. Commissioners Martin and Parrish cast the dissenting votes. Greene Publishing will have the video by Lynette Norris online tomorrow morning.
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Madison County Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday evening, June 29, at 6 p.m. to discuss an amendment to an interlocal agreement. The amendment would allow the Small County Surtax to help the hospital pay for indigent care.
Clerk of the Court Tim Sanders said that he had been approached by County Commissioner Roy Ellis, who wanted to know if there was any way that the hospital could be helped with the surtax.
The surtax is a one-cent sales tax that was originally designated for the jail, which was constructed in the early 1990s. Funds were then designated to pay for landfill closure. When the county received a grant to help with that, the funds were disbursed between Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and infrastructure within the county. Part of the infrastructure funds go to pay off two loans for wastewater and drinking water.
The amendment to the interlocal agreement would involving refinancing the current loan for infrastructure. This would free up $250,000 a year for the hospital.
The loan restructuring could end up with either a higher or lower interest rate. Sanders said that the county would probably let out the new loan for bids. Some people opposed to it, however, say that the loan would have to go an extra length of time actually increasing the interest that the county would pay.
Supporters of the hospital are urging the commission to pay this amendment. David Abercrombie, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said, “According to the State of Florida’s 2011 County Health Rankings, 23% of all Madison citizens under age 65 are without health insurance. This is a bad number. And it is one of several reasons that cause Madison County to rank Number 67 out of all 67 Florida counties in various health factors. Knowing this, it becomes clear that the people of Madison are in dire need of this amendment to the Interlocal Agreement. Now is the time for our leaders to show real leadership. This is what we pay them for. And this is the opportunity. If passed, this amendment will have major positive effects for us all; if the resources aren’t there, then Madison County could fall further and further behind Number 66.”
This can be taken anyway the reader wants. I’m MAD, mad as H—-, I just got my paper in the mail, while reading the paper about using the Madison extra tax money to pay for indigent care at the hospital, my wife was reading the mail, she said my Medical Insurance deductible is going up July 1st. to a thousand dollars. Yes, a thousand dollars,
I worked thirty years in law enforcement, my wife worked 20 years in Law Enforcement, we pay $720. a month for insurance. I’m on a fixed income, and while our President gives billions to foreign countries and none to Social security folks I’m suppose to give up more money over time. Call it like it is- which most people are afraid to say, those indigents, most likely haven’t worked an honest day in their life, most are second and third generation welfare recipients, many have two or three kids from different men, I’ve been in indigent peoples homes, over the 30 years I WORKED, they got their welfare checks and I’d see lotto tickets, dog track tickets, bolita tickets, they even traded food stamps for drugs.and wore $150. Nike shoes, with designer clothes, how do you do that when indigent? It’s bad enough we have a President, and a novice Governor, one trying to destroy our country and the other our State, and now these people want to use our tax dollars for a slush fund, Someone tell us where the hospital will go, when (a date) our hospital construction will start, they should also be required to publish at the end of each month, how much public tax money was taken in, how much public tax money was spent that month-on what and to whom! Don’t snow us with it’s a private matter, not public, etc. It is our money not a private slush fund.
Ken Sumner, Madison
By David Abercrombie, MCMH CEO
WHY DOES THE HOSPITAL HAVE TWO BOARDS?
When I first came to Madison five years ago, I was informed that the hospital had two boards -a hospital district board and a hospital corporate board. I have to admit that it confused me. No doubt it confuses many of you too. Now that I understand the reason, let me pass that understanding on to you.
Just to get our bearings, the name of the hospital district board is: Madison County Health and Hospital District. The name of the hospital corporation is: Madison County Health Systems, Inc. For clarity sake, I’ll call one, “the District” and I’ll call the other, “the Corporation.”
Before April 7, 1983 there was only one hospital board – “the District” board. The hospital district is a sub-unit of state government and its board at that time, as it still is today, was appointed by the governor of the state.
The Corporation didn’t yet exist. At that time, all employees of the hospital were District employees and because the hospital was (and is) a subunit of State government, it was required by State law to participate in the State of Florida Retirement System. The State Retirement System contributed 100% of all contributions to each employee’s retirement fund. This cost the Hospital District about a million dollars every year. Looking at this long-range, that means that it cost the District about $10,000,000 over ten years! A million dollars each and every year could be saved by spinning off a non-profit corporation and allowing this non-profit corporation to lease the hospital building and equipment, employ all the hospital employees, and operate the hospital.
The District would then confine its scope of duty to owning and leasing the building and other such property, and ensuring that the healthcare was properly attended to by the non-profit corporation. It was decided back then that the same people the governor appointed to the District board would also serve on the Corporate board. Because it is so obvious, you’ll likely never ask this, but for the sake of completeness let me say that the board members that serve today are not the same people that served in 1983; nor, for that matter is the District’s lawyer the same. The passage of thirty years brings a lot of changes. So…here we are thirty years later and the hospital has still has the two boards.
The question has got to be asked: Okay, is it still necessary to have two boards? The answer is: “yes.” The non-profit hospital corporation (not the District) was issued the State license to operate the hospital. The District does not have a license to operate the hospital.
It would seem like an easy matter to transfer the license, but nothing is ever seems easy. There are a couple of very major hurdles to this. First, if the license to operate the hospital is ever turned back to the State, then there is no guarantee that the State would re-issue another license to a different owner. Certain criteria would have to be met and it would take time, lots of it. Secondly, Medicare has a long process when it stops paying one hospital owner and starts making those payments to another owner (different owners with different license numbers effectively mean a different hospital).
This can take up to an additional year AFTER the new owner has received its new license. All payments from Medicare (about 52% of all money coming into the hospital comes from Medicare) would probably cease for probably about a year, or longer. So, there would probably be no hospital in Madison County for at least a three year span, if everything went right. Obviously, the hospital, as a continuing entity, couldn’t survive such an experience. This doesn’t even take into account that the current 130 hospital employees and the medical staff would be scattered to the wind. The hospital would probably never open again. The hurdles are just too great.
Then why not get rid of the District board and keep the Corporate board? This can’t be done either. First off, as was mentioned earlier in this article, the district is a subunit of State government (a Special Act codified by Chapter 2003-333, Laws of Florida). These board members serve at the pleasure of the governor. The citizens of a county can’t arbitrarily shut down a subunit of State government. Secondly, and this is important – the loan to build a new hospital is made to the District, not the Corporation. So, regarding the two Boards – it is what it is… at least for several years into the future.
This existing two-board structure actual works pretty well. If there is a problem, it seems to be in the form of confusion and misunderstanding. It has been said that the corporation was implemented to hide information regarding the hospital’s operation. That is not so. As a matter of fact, the board meetings of both, the District and the Corporate boards are held at the same sitting, one immediately following the other. Both meetings are open to the public. It has always been that way.
Everyone reading this has a blanket invitation to attend either, or both, meetings. Meetings are held the fourth Thursdays each month at 12 noon. As a way to make these meetings even more accessible, one meeting each quarter is held in communities other than Madison. For example, the meeting of June 23rd was held at Lee. So check your public notice postings to be sure of the time, date, and locations. They are subject to change from time to time.
By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
According to papers given out at a recent Madison County Memorial Hospital Board meeting, the hospital has over $700,000 in accounts payable that have not been paid.
Almost $300,000 of the money is overdue by 90 days, with $150,000 of it overdue by 60 days.
The hospital has been having trouble meeting payroll. David Abercrombie, Chief Executive Officer of Madison County Memorial Hospital, confirmed this.
Abercrombie said that the hospital had received a loan to meet payroll recently. When asked who had loaned the money, Abercrombie said the loan was made anonymously.
Abercrombie said that he had problem with releasing the lender/lenders’ name(s) but the lender had requested anonymity.
When asked if the reason behind the lender requesting anonymity was due to a conflict of interest, Abercrombie answered, “Not at all.”
Information the newspaper received about who had given the loan would represent a conflict of interest if it proves to be true.
There was no collateral given for the loan, only a promissory note.
The hospital also had a recent visit from an auditor with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The auditor expressed serious reservations about the present and future hospital to be constructed being viable.
Update: Abercrombie called Jacob Bembry at 1:54 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7, and informed him that Cary Hardee, the hospital board’s attorney, said that the loan had been made to the not-for-profit corporation of the hospital and that should guarantee the anonymity of the loan.
It wasn’t just any birthday. It wasn’t even just any 100th birthday, as remarkable as that was in and of itself. It was a celebration of “Dorothy Shaw Day” in the Madison County Memorial Hospital cafeteria, where numerous friends, family and former coworkers gathered to honor the hospital’s longtime former Director of Nursing (from 1958 until 1976) and celebrate her lifetime of dedication to the hospital and the community of Madison.
Renetta Parrish, Chair of the Madison County Commission, read the proclamation that named April 28, 2011, in her honor. It was followed in rapid succession by several other awards and proclamations, from Mayor Jim Catron on behalf of the city of Madison, Director Ben Harris on behalf of the Hospital Board, and Health Department Chair Bonnie Webb on behalf of the Madison County Health Department. Webb concluded her presentation with the story of how “Miss Dorothy” was still volunteering as recently as three years ago, giving out flu shots. With her daughter Connie as chauffer, Shaw brought vaccinations to people who were unable to come in to the Health Department. “She saw a need, and she filled it,” said Webb, who also presented Shaw with a vase of red roses, representing the passion that latter had shown all her life for nursing and for service to the community.
Born in Brooks County, Ga., April 26, 1911, Shaw, born Dorothy Collins, attended the Charity School of Nursing at age 15, and went on to work as a railroad nurse for Atlantic Coastline Railroad, an obstetrics nurse in Miami, a school nurse at Cherry Lake School, and ultimately, as Director of Nursing for the hospital.
Dr. William J. Bibb began the recollections of Shaw’s years with the hospital, recalling her work on the general medical floor in the 1960’s, and later the operating room the obstetrics/delivery rooms and the pharmacy. “We depended on Mrs. Shaw back then.” He concluded.
Several others spoke of her contributions and overall excellence in her job and in the staff she oversaw. “She ran a good, clean, tight ship,” said Hospital Board member Jimmy Sale.
“If you didn’t have high standards, you didn’t work for Mrs. Shaw,” added Linda Cherry.
Juan Botina was hired by Shaw as an orderly in 1972, then she sent him to EMS school. 39 years later, he still works in the Emergency Medical Services. Former nurses Yvonne Alexander, Frances Davis, Linda O’Brien, Mary Ann Burns and others, all had words of praise, some of them emotional, for their former supervisor.
Jenny Andrews, who once worked as a medical record-keeper when teaching jobs were scarce, said, “I have a bucket list, and nursing is on that bucket list,” because of Shaw’s influence. “Every few years, I threaten to go to nursing school.”
With speeches concluded, and many well-wishes exchanged, Vicki Howerton lit the candles and Shaw blew them out. As the gathering that was part birthday party, part reunion of old friends and colleagues, and all celebration of a much appreciated lady wound down, the general consensus among several of those gathered was, “we’ll definitely have to do this again next year.”
By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Friends of Madison County Memorial Hospital held a dinner on Thursday evening, April 14, in the hospital’s dining room.
“This will be one of several that will be held over the next few months,” said Vicki Howerton, MCMH Community Relations Coordinator.
Ray Griffin served as chef for the occasion. He prepared a spaghetti dinner with salad, garlic bread, tea and a vast array of special desserts. Helping Griffin were Chris Day, Caitlin Griffin, Hannah Odiorne, Adam Odiorne and Aaron Brown.
Day and Griffin will be on a missions team headed to Haiti, while the Odiornes and Aaron Brown will be on a mission, sharing God’s love with the people of Brazil.
Dr. James Stockwell was one of the speakers at an informational meeting. Stockwell is a noted gastroenterologist who comes to MCMH each Tuesday for endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures.
Rep. Leonard Bembry (D-Greenville) spoke to the group concerning the necessity of the new hospital for all families in the county and in the area.
Kin Johnson, a local businessman, suggested that all local businesses have signs concerning the new hospital displayed, as well as having bumper stickers.
David Abercrombie reminded everyone that Tallahassee Orthopedics Clinic now comes to the Four Freedoms Clinic each week. He also mentioned that Dr. Armond B. Cognetta, Jr. and other dermatologists from his clinic would be coming to Madison in May.
Abercrombie also discussed a working relationship with MCMH and North Florida Community College.
Approximately 75 people gathered to hear plans for a new hospital.
If anyone is interested in going to a community meeting in May, please call Vicki Howerton at MCMH at (850) 253-1917 or email her at email@example.com.
1. How did the hospital spend the $1,000,000 of sales tax revenue which was voted on by the taxpayers to be used only for the constructing of a new hospital and equipment?
2. Why were some County Commissioners told, before the meeting in which the hospital made their request, that they were there for a loan of $250,000 and yet they really were there for a sum of $1,000,000 which didn’t have to be repaid?
3. When is the constant polling of County Commissioners going to stop and who is gong to tell the one doing the polling that it is illegal?
4. Did the hospital borrow monies from a local bank using the Middle School property as collateral?
To The Voters of Madison County:
Have we been fooled into voting to raise sales tax to build a new hospital and now the money is being spent elsewhere?
The following is the exact verbiage that “us,” the voters were given to vote on:
NEW HOSPITAL CONSTRUCTION SURTAX REFERENDUM
(As authorized by Section 212.055(7), Florida Statutes)
Shall a one-half cent sales surtax be imposed in Madison County for the purpose of constructing, improving and paying the indebtedness to be incurred to finance the construction of and capital improvements for a new public or not-for-profit hospital facility in Madison County? The surtax shall not be used to pay the salary of hospital staff or the other day-to-day expenses of the hospital facility.
FOR THE HALF-CENT TAX ___
AGAINST THE HALF-CENT TAX ___
The $1,000,000 the hospital got out of this money pit…What was it spent on?
This wording clearly states what it is to be used for and what it is NOT to be used for!!
I am very familiar with “good ol’ boy, closed-door” politics.
If the $22,000,000.00 hospital is built, several million dollars will go to the architect and the engineer, the electrical contractors, the plumbing contractors, etc., etc., etc,. etc. for their services and this alone is enough motivation for some people to build a facility that I am afraid debt retirement will be inconceivable without an additional burden on the taxpayer.
We now have an add-on tax for the fire departments and for the Solid Waste Department.
If this overrated hospital is pushed through, the hospital tax will become an add-on.
We need a first class emergency facility, not a huge blunder, as Perry now has.
I hope to see you at the Friday county commission meeting at 5:00 p.m.
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
After listening to concerns from citizens about past funding problems of the Madison County Memorial Hospital, the lack of sufficient transparency in its present dealings, and unforeseen changes to the new hospital, the County Commission voted no (4 to 1) on the interlocal agreement – at least until some adjustments are made concerning accountability, the sunshine law and public records requirements. Attorney Tom Reeves agreed to draw up the new agreement with the modifications and the Commission scheduled another meeting for Friday, March 11, at 5 p.m. to reconsider it.
Joe Todd was the first to speak to the issues of transparency and public records, saying that a lot of people were asking that the hospital publish the salaries of its employees. George Puliotte mentioned past funding problems with the hospital and the ever-increasing figures for costs of the project through the years; he also questioned the legality of the current contract, a “continuation of an old contract with the CRA” from 2000, which prevented the current project from going out for bids. “We probably could have gotten this a lot cheaper (with bidding),” he said, adding that he had been against the half-cent tax “from day one,” calling it an indigent surtax. “I’m against using government funds (for this project). We’ve broken the law and I think we need to start over.”
Tom Gniewek questioned how the new hospital was going to pay for itself when it was already going in the hole half a million dollars a year in spite of lay-offs and other cutbacks; the new facility would have to hire 13 new people in order to operate. “We should have something put in (the agreement) that we have access to their books to see if it’s viable.” Additionally, two-thirds of the beds in the new facility are now “swing beds” not critical care beds. “This is not what we signed up for…I don’t see any advantage over the building we have now.” Warren Irwin asked when the hospital had to begin making payments on the USDA loan, but no one seemed to know the exact date.
David Abercrombie responded that the hospital board meetings every Thursday were open to everyone, but that citizens were not taking advantage of this, and that hospital salaries not protected by contract were already public record. Furthermore, a hospital could not by law disclose everything. There were insurance issues and individual patient privacy rights that were exempt, and a private hospital was not subject to the same requirements as a public one would be, and to get the current hospital under the same requirements as a public hospital would mean changing the ownership, losing the corporate structure and losing the Critical Need Certification they now had.
Ben Harris also defended the hospital as already operating in the sunshine “pure and simple,” relating how his father had survived a massive heart attack in 1963 only because of the Madison Hospital’s proximity. For stroke victims and others, he added, time was also critical. “You know we need a hospital here.”
Addressing the hospital’s operating at a loss, he said, “We provided three million in indigent care last year. We were not reimbursed for that.”
The Commission, after a short discussion, voted against the interlocal agreement in its current form, and agreed to revisit the issue at the special meeting Friday, to hear the new version with a separate agreement addressing some of the concerns that had been voiced.
The Chair, the Honorable Renetta Parrish, of the Board of County Commissioners of Madison County, Florida, and members of said Board, will hold a Special Meeting of the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. in the County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Courthouse Annex, Madison, Florida.
The purpose of this meeting is to consider the approval of an Interlocal Agreement between Madison County and Madison County Hospital District on use of Hospital Sales Tax.
PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, ANY PERSON REQUIRING SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ABOVE MEETING IS ASKED TO ADVISE THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AT LEAST 48 HOURS BEFORE THE MEETING BY CONTACTING ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE MANAGER SHERILYN PICKELS AT (850) 973-3179. IF YOU ARE HEARING OR SPEECH IMPAIRED, PLEASE CONTACT THE BOARD BY CALLING 1-800-955-8771.
ANY PERSON WHO DECIDES TO APPEAL ANY DECISION MADE BY THE BOARD WITH RESPECT TO ANY MATTER CONSIDERED AT SUCH MEETING WILL NEED A RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS, AND THAT, FOR SUCH PURPOSE, HE OR SHE MAY NEED TO ENSURE THAT A VERBATIM RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS IS MADE, WHICH RECORD INCLUDES THE TESTIMONY AND EVIDENCE UPON WHICH THE APPEAL IS TO BE BASED.
The public is invited to attend.
Dated and posted this 3rd day of March, 2011.
Tim Sanders, Clerk
Board of County Commissioners
Madison County, Florida