Barrett Continues to Purge Top Broward Health Employees

The week began with a public records lawsuit against Broward Health, then came news that the vacationing Senior Vice president Broward Health personal director Dionne Wong had resigned, then CEO of Broward Health’s flagship hospital – Broward Medical, Mark Sprada was forced out.  Although I do not, as yet have copies of their severance agreements – I suspect that they were consistent with the gag order agreement of ousted Doris Peek from a couple of weeks ago.  I have made a public records request for these severance agreements and will post them when received.

Here’s some of the rest of this developing story.

For some time, Dionne Wong has been remarkably excluded from involvement with the excessively long corporate CEO search now filled on an interim basis by Ms. Beverly Capasso.  You will recall that Ms. Capasso was a Broward Health Board Member when she was appointed interim CEO – an action with an active ethics and sunshine investigation by the Broward State Attorney.

But I digress, the permanent CEO search has been alternatively started, stopped, started, pending primarily at the initiative of Board member Chris Ure.  Meanwhile, a costly “outside independent consultant” has been conducting the non-existent search and vetting candidates for a job that most think has already been filled by a Governor Scott’s appointment Capasso through what many consider an illegal Board action

Importantly, it was Dionne Wong who purportedly had the responsibility for an academic verification on Capasso’s bogus mail-order degree.  This type of verification is standard due diligence for all Broward Health’s employees.  Clearly, Ms. Wong wasn’t sitting with the new cool kids of Barrett, Capasso, Ure, Rodreguez, et al..

An important corollary to these high-level personnel purges is the management evaluation contract, the brain child of Board Member Chris Ure which was used to stall the search for a permanent CEO.  His argument essentially was the assertion that if they system [he] didn’t know what was needed to be done, how could they [he] select a CEO.  The argument is silly on its face and shouts the Boards collective incompetence or collusion to disrupt the system for as yet unknown purposes.  Fortunately, when URE’s management consultant wanted millions of dollars to manage Broward Health, Chairman Rocky Rodreguez stopped the nonsense and aggressively objected.  Did the management consultant think they were Porritt and Zimmerman?  

Dionne Wong also played an important role in the ouster of previous CEO Frank Nask and the short lived El Sanadi’ tenure as CEO cut short by his suicide.  Dionne Wong, together with Donna Lewis, Doris Peek (the triple “D’s”) with a minor assist by Mark Sprada served as El Sanadi’s “kitchen” cabinet and responsible for much of the ill-advised administrative decisions that have accelerated the district’s downward management spiral.

Mark Sprada, as CEO of Broward Health’s flagship hospital Broward Medical Center had the unforgivable sin of pushing back against some of Corporate Counsel Lynn Barrett’s edicts citing charter, bylaws and statutesClearly, he had to go.

Add these “resignations” to the retiring interim Broward Health Finance Director Art Wallace in mid-September who is being replaced by another Jackson Hospital North alumni (Barrett & Capasso) and the Jackson gang is getting back together in Broward, landing on their feet and making tons of public moneyWhat a deal!

Currently, there is no discernable effort to find a permanent CEO to replace the interim CEO Beverly Capasso.  And while this non-effort continues, Ms. Capasso is hiring permanent staff to fill purged employees.  This is not the action of an interim.  I again give voice to generally accepted charade that predict Capasso is here to stay until a competent and proficient Board is appointed.

The unavoidable optic of these “resignations” is that Broward Health Corporate Counsel Lynn Barrett, apparently together with her pal – Interim Broward Health CEO Beverly Capasso, appear to be consolidating their hold around the neck of Broward Health, purging anyone in their path.  The feckless Board continues to turn a blind eye and seems indifferent to the thousands of employees and the public they purportedly serve.   

Hush Money Severance Agreements

“Severance agreements are more than just a “thank you” payment from an employer. They could prevent an employee from working for a competitor and waive any right to pursue a legal claim against the former employer. Also, an employee may be giving up the right to seek unemployment compensation. … The payments in some cases will continue only until the former employee has found another job.” Wikipedia

Agreements as an inducement of employment can provide severance benefits by providing payments for each year of service, vacation & sick time accrued.  Typical severance agreements also include both a confidentiality and a general release of claims with a covenant not to sue with a non-disparagement clause.  With the high pay rate being offered to generally inexperienced candidates for senior Broward Health jobs – where loyalty and past friendship to Barrett and Capasso appears to be the most important employee quality, it is hard to justify offering severance benefits as a job inducement at Broward Health.

But typical severance agreements for private companies are inappropriate for public organizations.  In Florida, there could be an argument for confidentiality for narrow issues that can be discussed in “shade” meetings (meetings of public boards that can be conducted in private- by statute).  Non-disparagement and confidentiality prohibitions on any other issue in severance agreements – are not only inappropriate but also nothing more than hush money.

It is a hush money practice this Broward Health Board promised to discontinue, yet here they are – unchanged!

Action for the Board:      The board must execute an irrevocable release of any confidentiality, non-disparagement, and law-suit prohibition clause on any matters not lawfully excluded from public disclosure by statute to everyone who has an active severance agreement with Broward Health. 

Sunshine & Public Records

Transparency in more than an unfulfilled promise by Broward Health’s Board – it is the law.  But Broward Health’s gaggle of attorneys spend an inordinate amount of the public’s money finding ways to skirt the law and parse the statute.  

Here’s why Broward Health gets away with it.

If Broward Health violates the open government laws – either, the State Attorney initiates charges or someone files a lawsuit (as happened on Monday – see below).  In response, Broward Health hires lawyers to defend, and the public pays.  At the end, if a Judge assesses fines and/or fees to the successful litigation – again the public pays

The public always pays, right or wrong, for Broward Health’s “alleged” intentional violation of statutes governing government in the sunshine.  But, in the case of lawsuits, the public can learn from the allegations contained in the pleadings.  Note paragraphs 51 & 52 on page 12:

20170802PublicRecordsComplaint

In addition to seemingly constant public records violations (most of which are not significant enough to litigate), meeting procedures consistently violate sunshine rules with respect to meeting notices, the publishing of agenda’s, the availability of meeting documents and even procedural notice that the public may speak not only at the beginning of the meeting on any matter – but also speak to any item on the agenda at the time the item is on the floor.  It is more than aggravating that a public entity with more than a 2-billion-dollar budget is so cavalier with its meetings and decision process.

Action for the Board:       Post meeting notices, agenda’s and meeting documents timely and in advance of all Board meetings.  During the meeting, ask for public input on each and every action agenda item.  Follow the spirit and the law on public records.  Make transparency Broward Health’s policy.

It’s Time To Act.

I’ve decided to end my posts with a call to action. In addition to clearly delineating suggested remedial actions I think the Board should take. I include the following actions others might consider.  

  1. The medical staff at Broward Health (each Hospital) should conduct a No-Confidence vote on the Board and management of Broward Health.
  2. Everyone who is so inclined, should withhold financial and political assistance to Governor Scott‘s senatorial campaign until he appoints qualified people to fill the vacancies on the Broward Health Board. This means that physicians should stop sending money to Scott until he does his job.  (I intend to “out” all Broward contributors to the Governor or his various committees until he does his damn job!)
  3. Demand the Broward State Attorney convene a grand jury to examine Broward Health’s business dealings, employee policies, Broward Health’s handling of public records, shade meeting, sunshine statutes, and anything else that is discovered.  It’s time for real transparency.
  4. Demand the Governor report on the findings of his Inspector General’s and the reported FDLE investigation into Broward Health.
  5. Demand from your congressional delegation a report on the findings or progress of the HHS Inspector General’s, the Federal Grand jury and the FBI ongoing investigations.  Enough already.  If there is or were wrongdoing – deal with it, if not – remove the cloud of suspicion.
  6. Tell everyone that the conduct of the current Broward Health Board, and the mismanagement of the District is not only wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, but is also costing lives.

OK – I’m way over my word count, and I still have more to add.  It will have to wait.  In the meantime, we are at Clue 6 in the ongoing riddle.

Clues 1-4 are found in my post & commentsI’m Back

Clue 5 is found at the end of my Broward Health – lipstick on a pig[

The 6th Clue:

What does 112.313(1),(2),(4),(6) and 

this audio file have in common, and why?
(If you have trouble with the audio file – click & download & play).

Remember: You can send me anonymous tips and information through my About/Contact page.

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More resignations deepen turmoil at Broward Health

 “Two more executives resigned this week at Broward Health.”

“Dionne Wong, senior vice president for human resources, and Mark Sprada, interim chief executive of Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, both resigned. Their departures follow the resignation of senior vice president Doris Peek, in the wake of a highly critical report on her handling of a marketing contract.”

The resignations come after Broward Health’s credit rating was lowered last month by S&P Global Ratings, which cited weak financial results and the leadership turmoil at the troubled system, legally known as the North Broward Hospital District.

“The resignations are likely to worsen the hospital system’s image in the eyes of credit rating agencies, whose assessments influence the cost of borrowing money. In a statement accompanying the downgrade of Broward Health’s credit in July, S&P Global analyst Stephen Infranco said, “The lower rating and negative outlook reflect continued weak operating results, thin cash flow and the continued void in permanent senior leadership, with many positions filled on an interim basis during a period of significant challenges and heightened scrutiny.”

Click Source for the full article.

Source: More resignations deepen turmoil at Broward Health

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Former Broward Health exec gets six-figure payout despite scathing report

A former Broward Health executive who resigned after a highly critical report will receive $214,008 under a severance agreement.  In return, she promised to not take Broward Health to court and “not engage in any activity either oral or written which disparage or adversely affect Broward Health.”

“A $214,008 gag order to shut her up contrary to Board promises to discontinue the practice and bring transparency to Broward Health.” Dan Lewis

See the well written story by Sun Sentinel’s David Fleshler.

See the executed severance agreement.

Source: Former Broward Health exec gets six-figure payout despite scathing report

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Broward Health – lipstick on a pig

It’s Black and White

On the one hand, Broward Health interim CEO Paulene Grant, was accused by a physician of indirectly benefiting from an alleged kickback scheme involving two physicians who are still working at Broward Health.  Allegedly, the accusing physician had been denied hospital rotation privileges due to peer review action (bad physician). Notably, apparently Lynn Barrett, Broward Health Corporate Council hired outside council as an interim compliance officer who made a determination that Pauline Grant did not, in fact violate the anti-kickback  statues  NeverthelessMs. Grant was fired for cause and escorted from the premises as a result of these accusations.  Of course, there is pending litigation.

On the other hand, the most recent Independent Review Organization (IRO) report  accuses Senior Vice president Doris Peek of multiple “intentional misrepresentations” , “intentionally misleading the Board of Commissioners”, an “apparent fraudulent scheme” and  “engaging in ‘obsessive efforts’ to steer improper and excessive payments to a marketing firm owned by Ben Porritt, former national spokesman for John McCain’s presidential campaign… As a result, more than $1.9 million was paid to Porritt’s company, of which nearly $1.7 million was in excess of the amount agreed in the original contract, according to the report.” Ominously, the IRO concludes “We leave it to others to determine whether Peek, as a public employee of Broward Health, may have used or attempted to use her position to secure a special privilege or benefit for Outside Eyes and Porritt (112.313( 6), Florida Statutes) by improperly disclosing non-public intonation obtained by reason of her employment for the personal gain or benefit of Outside Eyes and Porritt ((112.313(8), Florida Statutes).”  It appears that in the face of these very serious allegations, Doris Peek was allowed to “retire” maintaining her benefits.  It is unclear if Ms. Peek also received a sweetheart severance package together with usual confidentiality agreement to keep her from talking about what really goes on at corporate.

The difference, unlike with Doris Peek, there is no suggestion that interim CEO Paulene Grant lied or mislead anyone or did anything to discredit either Broward Health or her position.

The difference is Paulene Grant is black, and Doris Peek is white.  It’s racism, pure and simple. The Board should be ashamed!

Voodoo Economics

On May 21, 2015, I posted OMG – Nabil El Sanadi’s First 5 Months!  and noted “Dr. Nabil El Sanadi’s first 5 months as CEO is peppered by his apparent arrogant administrative miss-steps, ‘discretionary’ spending seemingly more befitting a drunken sailor, a rumored lack of confidence vote by the medical staff, and ostensible team busting organizational paranoia that even by Broward Health standards is remarkable.”  Recent IRO disclosures and the significant downgrading of Broward Health’s credit rating based, in part on “The magnitude of the downgrade and maintenance of the negative outlook reflect a sharp decline in operating performance during the current FY 2016, representing significant negative variance relative to historical operating performance and budget, and a potential future breach of debt service coverage covenant,” The rating agency said. “The rating action also reflects significant transition in senior leadership, heightened external scrutiny, and depressed liquidity partly due to payout for recent legal settlement.” Suggest that since Dr. El Sanadi’s curious suicide, Broward Health has continued his financial and management incompetence with vigor.

Broward Health’s finances are sitting on a three-legged stool supported by taxpayers, Obama Care (in particular Medicaid & previously uninsured), and investments.  Commissioner Ure, a man who should know better, wants us to believe it is the effective interim management with a wonderful story to tell.   In fact, Broward Health is in perilous financial shape after little more than two years of financial mismanagement and incompetent leadership buoyed only by an historically strong balance sheet bought and paid for by years of taxpayer support and employee dedication.

Fortunately, the financial core of Broward Health’s balance sheet is found in its 8,000 dedicated health professionals, who while embarrassed by the current corporate leadership and board, continue to give their best for the health of the community.  In spite of their dedication and millions spent in “advertising”, occupancy and census for use of Broward Health’s services continue to be weak.

Note the startling differences in the financial reports from fiscal year 2015 & 2016.  The first from KPMG, a top 10 accounting firm, the second from a “shopped” accounting firm who agreed – for a paycheck, to ignore critical elements of Broward Health’s financial picture, like the federal regulatory actions and the numerous active federal, state and local investigations on both civil and criminal issues. (Click the links)

Fiscal Year 2015 Audit                                         Fiscal Year 2016 Audit

Transition in senior leadership

“significant transition in senior leadership” – Talk about understatement!

'Now that we all agree on the agenda, a show of hands on how many want to keep it hidden.'

In May, the Broward Health board without either comment or discussion appointed board member Beverly Capasso as interim CEO of Broward Health – its fourth CEO in 18 months, and Ms. Capasso voted for it!!!   Even after a formal sunshine complaint – apparently what is patently obvious to everyone, the State Attorney has yet to find a violation.   My guess, and hope is that any jury would reasonably determine that the vote had been impermissibly pre-arranged in smoke-filled back rooms – and all the commissioners who voted for it are guilty as hell!  But, that’s my opinion.

If you’ve reading this blog for any time, you may recall that El Sanadi with and through his corporate power-hungry coven consisting of IT – Doris Peek, Personnel – Dionne Wong, and Compliance – Donna Lewis, began a purge of all senior leadership with any opposition to their (I mean Dr. El Sanadi’s) ambitions.  The current IRO report on Peek gives a peek into the free-wheeling conduct of these El Sanadi’s familiars.

Subsequent to El Sanadi’s suicide, the power shifted to Lynn Barrett – Broward Health’s corporate attorney who had been hired by the El Sanadi commission of Rodriguez, DiPietro, Neiland and Wright after they purged the extraordinarily competent and well respected governmental attorney Sam Goren.  Interim CEO Keven Fusco, who had been hand-picked by El Sanadi after he purged the previous Chief Operating Officer, and he could stay just so long as he was a good boy, which wasn’t for long.

Compliance Donna Lewis was the first to go. after all, compliance is Barrett’s exclusive area.   Compliance was now how everyone at Broward Health would be measured – new current rules could and in cases where anyone opposed Barrett’s ambitions – would be applied retroactively (as in the case of Paulene Grant).

This compliance inquisition is carried out by the “Independent Review Organizations” IRO at the “direction” of Barrett which, on the surface, is perfectly understandable.  But there are fair questions about exactly how was the IRO chosen.  One would expect that a Request for Proposal (RFP) would have been issued for this lucrative contract.   No RFP.

Instead there are a few tangled Barrett private relationships including purported best friend Myla Reizen, Heidi Sorenson, Laura Ellis and Scott Newton author of the IRO report.  Notwithstanding these apparent irregularities and undisclosed relationships, the substance of the IRO report appear both comprehensive and independent even if the targets are “coincidentally” persons pushing back against Barrett’s ambitions. 

Lynn Barrett

However, with substantial complaints and questions relating to Barrett’s conduct including (but not limited to): complaints and calls related to Barrett, Reizen, Newton and Perez; Barrett’s Broward Health’s hush money severance policy; The Baker Donelson invoices; The Foley invoices; corrective action plans for PPUC contracts; etc…  It is curious why the IRO is not reviewing these matters with the same enthusiasm as he reviews those publicly speaking out against Barrett’s alleged excesses.  Certainly, a circumstantial argument could be made that the IRO is not as independent as it should be.

The only thing worse than being a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocriteTennessee Williams

Tic Toc, time is running out.

Riddle:
Which Broward Health Commissioner might find it’s a good time to quietly resign?

Clues 1-4 are found in my post & comments “I’m Back”

The 5th clue is the link between Barbara Stanwyck, Ursula Thiess, and Jay Cohen and you’ll have the ethical key to this Commissioner’s problem at Broward Health.

Remember: you can send me anonymous tips and information through my About/Contact page.

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Broward Health credit rating downgraded, as report slams marketing contract

by David Fleshler, Sun-Sentinel

S&P Global Ratings has issued a negative outlook on Broward Health’s finances, while an outside monitor slammed the handling of a marketing contract.

“The magnitude of the downgrade and maintenance of the negative outlook reflect a sharp decline in operating performance during the current FY 2016, representing significant negative variance relative to historical operating performance and budget, and a potential future breach of debt service coverage covenant,”

“The rating action also reflects significant transition in senior leadership, heightened external scrutiny, and depressed liquidity partly due to payout for recent legal settlement.”

Source: Broward Health credit rating downgraded, as report slams marketing contract

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Report: Broward Health overpaid marketing firm by $1.7M

From POLITICO

 “The firm’s founder and a Broward Health executive devised a ‘secret side agreement’ for the marketing contract, according to an independent report.”

“According to a 63-page independent report released Wednesday, Broward Health’s senior vice president for marketing and communications, Doris Peek, and Outside Eyes founder Ben Porritt spent three weeks in the spring of 2015 devising a “scheme” to execute a marketing contract along with a “secret side agreement” that the marketing firm would later bill the health system for additional services.”

Full Politico Story: Report: Broward Health overpaid marketing firm by $1.7M

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I’m Back!

I attended the June 28th 2017 -Broward Health Board meeting.  Last year we said ‘things can’t go on like this’ at Broward Health, and they didn’t, they got worse.

Hello Boys, I'm BackAfter taking a months-long break from writing this blog, hoping in vain for things to naturally get better, Although I missed several recent Board meetings, I have not been entirely absent thanks to the many people (both employees and other attendees) who regularly provide me with the meeting materials and their contemporaneous observations.

Following are my observations and comments on this meeting. But first some meeting context.

Recall the seemingly endless investigations without closure.

Florida’s Inspector General, Melinda Miguel, who you recall blew a loud corruption whistle on Broward Health just days after Dr. Nabil El Sanadi apparently committed suicide in 2015, resigned this April without making a public report of her findings.  Governor Scott appointed Eric Miller to fill the vacancy.  Miller’s first day as chief inspector general was April 21st, 2017.

Public reports in 2015 and early 2016 said The Florida Department of Law Enforcement(FDLE) was conducting some parallel criminal investigations into Broward Health as was the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Federal HHS Inspector General.  So far, nothing.  Not a peep.

You're giving me the run around!More recently, Broward State Attorney Mike Satz opened an investigation headed by Tim Donnelly into alleged sunshine violations by Broward Health’s Board.  Given the dismal track record of Broward State Attorney’s Public Corruption unit – it is not likely anything will come of it.

So, Broward Health’s Board apparently can act with justifiable impunity to the complete detriment of their public trust and both the spirit and rule of Florida’s sunshine laws guaranteeing transparency.

Revolving door of Broward Health Board members

Commissioner’s DiPietro & Wright removed by the Governor, Nieland under public pressure, Canada in objection to abhorrent Board conduct and VanHoose resigned citing a dysfunctional board.  Of course, then there’s Commissioner Capasso, who after “spontaneously” accepting the appointment of interim CEO had to step down from the Board so she could “do the system a favor” and accept a $650,000 salaryMore on this later in this article.

With the recent appointment of Commissioner Steven Wellins, the Board is again up to its quorum count of 4 members3 board seats continue to be vacant with the Governor apparently not particularly interested in appointing the vacant seats.

Interesting side note: Commissioner Wellins, he is a financial adviser for Wells Fargo, who recently “called” it’s 20-million-dollar loan to Broward Health due.  While it may not be a conflict in fact, it certainly has the appearance of one! Hmmm….

And let’s not forget Broward Health’s senior staff.

The ‘Interim” Broward Health CEO’s since Dr. El Sanadi’s suicide include Kevin Fusco (El Sanadi’s designee) followed by Broward Health North Hospital CEO Pauline Grant (removed under unusual and suspicious circumstances by the 4-member Board – an action which led to ongoing litigation and allegations of wrongdoing), followed by Kevin Fusco again, followed by Commissioner Capasso (an action which led to the current State Attorney’s investigation).

Meanwhile, the search for a permanent CEO is inexplicably stalled by the Board.

Currently, while many senior staff positions are vacant, all senior staff is interim except for the IT and HR departments.

So much for the Executive leadership at Broward Health.

Given this back-drop, the June 28th meeting appeared more a carefully choreographed public relations event, then some respectable meeting where responsible leaders might transact the public’s business in the sunshine.   With a wink, a smile, and a nod –obviously privately briefed commissioners cast their pre-arranged votes in march step, confident that their best intentions and the inaction of any of the investigative authorities would protects them from any public accountability whatsoever.

Meeting Tidbits

[For those that like to follow along, I’ve excerpted the Agenda Book and other handouts to a PDF here.]

Without DeGroot in attendance (see previous articles ), no one offered any general public comments, so the agenda moved to 2 items brought forward by Chairman Rodriguez but certainly not on his own initiative.

Good work ethic without morals.The first item was to designate Chairman Rodriguez as the Board liaison to the Interim CEO Capasso as she hires senior staff.  While this is provided in the Health System’s charter, it has been the custom for past Boards to honor the CEO’s selection of Senior Staff (his or her team, as it were).   This item was odd because of the disconnect for an interim CEO to hire permanent senior staff thereby effectively preventing any incoming permanent CEO from selecting and hiring his own team.  Qualified senior staff candidates would understand and be hesitant to accept a job with such an uncertain future without a significant severance package appropriately weighted for the uncertainty.  On the other hand, if Capasso really isn’t that interim…  After all, after only 3 days on the job, the Board said she was doing a “great job”.  Really, they could tell after only 3 days?

Benign incompetence

The second item was to adopt a process to appoint external members of the audit committee.  Recall that recently, an indeRun it past legal, bypass ethics.pendent member of the audit committee had the temerity to object to staff recommendations and was summarily removed “for term limits”.  Really?

Apart for the issue of independence, the recommended process appeared to make sense for the audit committee, but here’s what happened on his item, and again – it’s odd.

The board was presented with a “draft proposed process” which they dutifully read during staff’s presentation.

This “draft proposal” was not in the meeting “Agenda Book”, and no copies made available to the public before or during the meeting, After the meeting, Corporate Counsel Lynn Barrett had copies in a folder and gave me one.    I did not ask why they were not distributed before the meeting, or why they were not contained in the “agenda book”, but it is important that her office promulgated the “draft proposal”.  I wondered to myself if she has even read the sunshine law.

The Medical Staff Agenda

For the most part, the Medical Staff Agenda’s for each of Broward Health’s Hospitals was perfunctory and professional.  However, a few warning flags were waived.

The first is, the medical staff wants to be a part of the CEO search and evaluation.  Apparently, they are under the illusion that the search is earnest and in good faithI predict that in six months, interim CEO Capasso will be named permanent CEO, at least until we have a new Governor and new Board.

Second, in some of Broward Health’s hospitals apparently physicians are not applying for available service contracts which now require some of the hospitals to transfer their patients to other hospitals.  This is a different problem than physicians not getting qualified and contracted for services they want to perform.  At Broward Health North this appears to be an additional bureaucratic problem which Capasso promised to resolve.   Nevertheless, the possibility that physician and physician groups not applying for wanting contracts is a significant warning sign that things are not alright.

Interim CEO Update – Beverly Capasso

We don't need credentials, we need liars.CEO Capasso gave us a brief, but unsatisfying gulp of Broward Health’s cool-aide.  “Everything’s fine”, “we’re making progress”.  Under the circumstances, what else could anyone expect she would she be saying?

Recently the Sun-Sentinel, the only news service making any attempt to cover Broward Health, ran a front-page story about Capasso’s “sketchy” MHA (Masters of Health Administration) professional credentials. See that story here.  The well written story dared to show that not only did the Board fail to review Capasso’s professional qualifications, but even if they had – she clearly did not meet the minimum qualifications for consideration.  Not to worry, the fact that Governor appointed her seems to be the only credential worth the $ 650,000 salary.

But let me take a slightly different perspective on Capasso’s appointment as interim CEO, aside from what appears to be an obvious sunshine violation.  Because of incompetent past Board actions (of which she was a voting member) essentially abandoning the CEO search, mostly at the direction of the Commissioner Ure  – when interim CEO Kevin Fusco resigned, the Board had literally no one to turn too.  Not only was there no bottom of the barrel, there was no barrel at all.  I do not believe, no – that’s not right, I hope that Capasso will be no worse than Fusco’s time in charge.

The only possible alternative the Board had besides Capasso who, at least, arguably had some relevant healthcare management experience was to negotiate and bring back past CEO Frank Nask, who although is available – likely could not be considered because Dr. El Sanadi spent his short tenure unfairly blaming Nask for everything including global warming.

Beside not knowing Capasso, I have no sense of her vision for Broward Health.  I don’t know if she understands that Broward Health not only serves the public but belongs to the public.  That aside, I am told, that despite Capasso’s allegedly close relationship with Lynn Barrett,  she has told Ms. Barrett to stay out of operations.  If true, that’s a good sign.  For the moment, I’m inclined to give Interim CEO Capasso a chance to meet the challenge and grow in the position.  After all, what choice do we have?  I am reminded of what Henry L. Stimson said; the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him“.  Of course, that’s true for con-artists as well so a healthy public skepticism and transparency is even more important today at Broward Health.

Debt Restructure Presentation – Finance Department

What are you talking about?This item was so important in its ramifications for Broward Health that I am devoting a entire post to this and the interim financial report. I hope I can finish this extensive post about Broward Health’s finances in the next few days. This will give me the time I need to review some facts and figures with some healthcare financial experts.  My working titles for the post are “Now you see me 4 (about financial sleight of hand)” and “What’s wrong with this picture (when is an audit not an audit?)” and “lipstick on a pig”.

I would be remiss, however, if I failed to draw your attention to the 2 “emergency” and not publicly noticed agenda items Mr. Wallace brought up to approve “replacement” contracts for two contracts interim CEO Kevin Fusco signed apparently without authorization for in excess of 9 million dollars.

Since the finance department, through interim finance director Art Wallace, brought these items up during his presentation – I’ll fully address this and how the Board is being miss-advised by the corporate counsel’s office in my next post.   You won’t want to miss it.

The only thing worse than being a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocrite.  – Tennessee Williams

Finally, there’s a huge scandal brewing and because you have taken the time to read this lengthy post right to the end – I’ll finish with a riddle. Which Broward Health Commissioner might find it’s a good time to quietly resign?  Here are 3 hints: I promise, its easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.

  1. Sleazy hypocrites get cached.
  2. In Florida, it’s too hot for a cover-up.

If you can solve the riddle, post your answer in the comments.  I will add 2 more hints to the riddle in my next post.  Look for it in the next few days.

Remember: you can send me anonymous tips and information through my About/Contact page.

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Be afraid, be very afraid!

A Recent Broward Health Board Meeting

As seen in the City News, a group of 10 neighborhood newsletters that go to about 60,000 affluent homeowners in, and around, Ft. Lauderdale, Wilton Manors and Oakland Park each month. Author Dan Lewis’ articles are regularly published in the City News publications. Contact them at citynews@bellsouth.net or call (954) 564-1308.

The Broward Health chairperson begins the board meeting in broken English with a call to order, followed by an unintelligible instruction to call the roll: Chair Rocky Rodreguez, “here”; Vice-Chair Christopher Ure, “here”; Beverly Capasso, “here”; Linda Robinson, “here”. So, begins the meeting in a nondescript room at the unimpressive west-central “Spectrum” headquarters of the 2+ billion-dollar tax-supported safety-net hospital system responsible for the healthcare of the majority of Broward County.

By law, there are supposed to be 7 board members for Broward Health, all appointed by the Governor. But for more than a year the Governor has not appointed members to fill all the board vacancies. Recently, after one Board Member refused to be re-appointed, and another resigned because of alleged misconduct by her fellow Board Members, the board only has 4 active members – the exact number required for a quorum to conduct the business of the 2+ billion-dollar health-care enterprise.

Rocky Rodriquez

Rocky Rodriquez

Linda Robison

Linda Robison

Beverly Capasso

Beverly Capasso

Christopher Ure

Christopher Ure


Because the number of board members equals the board quorum requirement, depending on whose legal opinion the board chooses to follow – either the board requires a unanimous vote (a majority of the Board legal argument), or three of the four active members to vote (a majority of the quorum legal argument) for an agenda item for approval. Remarkably, the board’s legal counsel advised that on a particular agenda item where one board member recused themselves due to a conflict (an all too common occurrence), only 2 out of the remaining 3 votes would be required to approve the item. Not surprisingly,  no experienced or past Broward Health legal counsel agrees with this board’s legal counsel’s advice here. Consider the ramifications of a hypothetical agenda item to privatize the system where one ethical board member wisely recuses themselves. According to the current board counsel, only 2 affirmative votes would be required to flush the system down the toilette.

The Governor needs to do all that he can do to appoint members to fill all the vacancies on the Broward Health Board. The voting uncertainty alone argues for urgency.

But I digress, back to the meeting.

The meeting room is filled with senior and mid-level staff, district employees and physicians who have come to watch the board spectacle but have little other purpose in attending. Each has way better things to do, but here they are anyway. By my count, the only other people at the meeting are a few vendors interested in specific agenda items, some low-level employees who have rightly been singled out for monthly honors, and, of course, John DeGroot – a self-styled curmudgeon who should have listened to the advice “Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt”.  Unfortunately for John, there is little doubt left.

I bring up Degroot because what happens next illustrates the point that even the relatively simple task of managing public comment appears to be beyond the abilities of this Board.

The Chair calls for “Public Comment” (an agenda item that gives anyone the opportunity to address the board on any relevant matter) and DeGroot swaggers to the podium, as if fulfilling some anointed obligation to harangue the board. A security guard quietly takes his post about 20 feet back. Degroot begins, as he usually does, with a factually unsupported assumption to which no one agrees, and then demands that a particular board member give a response to an angry question born out of an unhappy life.

meeting cartoon

What happens next, or rather what doesn’t happen next is the point. Silence. Silence, while board members check their phones for calls, emails, texts – and waits, the chair shuffles, uneasy in his seat and waits – refusing to look up. Degroot waits in silence holding the podium hostage. And waits, and waits. Finally, I could take it no longer, I said out loud what everyone in the room was thinking “Are we waiting for the 3 Minutes to expire? This is ridiculous!”. The Chairman looked up and I shrugged my shoulders and used my best hand gestures to signal “WTF”. Thankfully, just then, the very able Maryanne Wing – clerk to the board, announced that 3 minutes had expired and Degroot sat down with his pyric victory and petulant smirk!

The context to this incident is this. There is typically a 3-minute rule for public comments at most public meetings, and Broward Health is no exception. Except, the 3 minutes is not a grant of time. Rather the 3 minutes is a limit. In addition, well run meetings prohibit the back and forth debate between the public and board members as a slippery slope to meeting chaos. Again, Broward Health meetings are no exception. Degroot knew full well that meeting decorum rules prohibit any conversation or response to his question by the Board.

Here’s what should have happened, but didn’t. After Degroot asked his absurd question – the Chair should have immediately reminded him that the board would not respond, and ask if there were anything else – and if not, instruct him to take his seat or be removed.

I use this incident as a microcosm illustrating a fundamental problem at Broward Health with its current 4-member board. The board doesn’t understand the basics of why they’re there, what they’re doing, or who’s interests they represent.

Another example in this same meeting, was the item addressing the suspension of the CEO search efforts. Here’s what happened. At a Board Member’s recommendation and after paying more than $300,000 to recruit a new CEO to replace more than a year of “interim” CEO’s, and after interviews culled the candidate list to 2the board abruptly cancelled their CEO replacement activities to hire, instead,  a management company to tell them (the board) what, if anything, is wrong with the management organization at Broward Health.  Likely, after spending hundreds of thousands more of our tax dollars – the management company will report what everyone knows, that the root of the management problems at Broward Health is the board itself.

By common sense, relevant Florida Statutes, Broward Health’s charter, and specific prohibitions – the Broward Health board is not to interfere with the management or operations of the health system. The board’s job is to make policy, and supervise the CEO, Corporate Counsel as well as a compliance officer – not manage Broward Health!

It is specifically the CEO’s job to manage the organization (please see every text book about the function of CEO’s versus its Boards!).

Here’s what should have happened. The board should hire a CEO, give that CEO the support necessary to address all the management issues of the District. The board should remove itself from any involvement in the hiring and firing of district employees. The Board should support the CEO if he or she believes that he or she should hire a management company for areas in which the CEO may designates and that management company, if hired, should be responsive to the CEO – not the Board.

Instead, the board using a board member’s convoluted argument hired a management company to advise “the board” on the management of Broward Health. This advice demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about a public organization, its management, processes, functions, or this member’s role as a public fiduciary. What is both disappointing and a little unnerving is that the resume of this board member asserts his experience as a management consultant and wealth manager. Based on his Board actions, he’s the consultant who borrows your watch to tell you the time.

self-inflicted-woundThe current 4-member board doesn’t understand the basics of why they’re there, what they’re doing, or who’s interests they represent.

The active board members are a realtor, and insurance salesman, a nurse and a lawyer connected with a local lobbying firm known for its government practice.  Most observers and those “in the know” believe this board is being bullied by an out-of-control corporate counsel who’s conduct appears to be remarkably self-serving and designed to strengthen her political control of the organization. Supporting this group of misfits is the weakest senior staff in the history of Broward Health due to the ill-conceived political “purges” begun under the chairmanship of disgraced David DiPietro and continuing under CEO Dr. El Sanadi (who, you recall, committed suicide while under a cloud of investigations). (You can read my many articles published at the time – see the archives ). This menagerie is running a 2+-billion-dollar healthcare enterprise into the ground with (and I’m being charitable here) their best intentions.

A conspiracy type would consider all this through the lens of deliberate destabilization for the purpose of satisfying the Governor’s stated intentions to privatize public hospitals in Florida. Publicity shy, consummate lobbyist, Broward resident and close friend of the Governor – “Billy” Rubin’s name is often mentioned as the puppet-master.

I know and have great respect for Rubin and his abilities. While he certainly has clients with interest in Broward Health, I am not convinced by the conspiracy arguments or Rubin’s alleged part in that scenario. So what is driving this train wreck?

After going to the last few meetings, I am struck by the overt incompetence of the board and their complete failure to understand their role in the governance of Broward Health. I think the damage is largely self-inflicted.

Pick your cliché: deliberate destabilization, paralysis by analysis, stagnation by allegation – each is apropos and from any perspective, Broward Health’s Board conduct and actions seem to defy reasonable explanations and is an embarrassment to every taxpayer in its district.

The problem is most acute in the system’s governance – the Board, it’s hires and senior staff. Less problematic are thankfully the thousands of health care workers who daily deliver high quality service to the community. But the organization, at its most granular critical levels are not immune from the irresponsibility of the board and senior management. The longer that the board dysfunction and the Governor’s failure to appoint qualified people to a full board continues, the more avoidable and inexcusable damage will be done to the organization and Broward’s healthcare needs.

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How Healthy is Broward Health?

Here is a great article that can be found in Pompano Magazine, Lighthouse Point Magazine and the  Deerfield Beach Magazine written by Richard Rosser & Danielle Charbonneau about Broward Health.  I asked for permission to post the complete article, and they agreed.    Here it is:

BrowardHealthAsSeenIn_LHP_POM_DFBs
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Broward Health comes up short on compliance with legal settlement

Broward Health won’t be able to assure the federal government it has met its obligations under a 2015 legal settlement over charges of illegal payments to physicians.

Source: Broward Health comes up short on compliance with legal settlement

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