Board of Commissioners,
West Volusia Hospital Authority,
131 E. New York Ave.,
P.O. Box 509,
DeLand, FLA 32721.


I should like to inform the Board that I was surprised by Mr. Lind’s presentation at our meeting of the 17th. Unfortunately, I can’t say that and keep a straight face: almost since the beginning I have been aware that Memorial Health Systems / Memorial Hospital ­ West Volusia (hence, ‘‘Ormond’’) was not running the facility in a responsible manner.

In the next week, we will be discussing Ormond’s requests for still more money in subsidies, along with huge increases in indigent funding. I doubt that anyone is seriously shocked. The only surprise is that it took them over four months to get their battered tin cups ready and primed with a few quarters to rattle. As they make like mendicants, let us consider some issues which they really must address, including Ormond’s ‘‘surprises’’ and one factor which may actually be a surprise. (I am copying this to Mr. Lind so that he may address such as he will.)

Debt : As you will recall, over the years I have pointed out that Ormond’s operation does not appear financially sound. An early warning should have been seen in my hosp9605.txt of 05-Nov-1996. In my letter hosp9702.txt of 19-Jan-1997, I pointed out that Ormond had to be in desparate straits to try sending [a rather shop-worn] Pat West to beg for money. Perhaps the most striking summary was presented in my letter hosp9902.txt of 22-Mar-1999. At that time, I noted that Ormond seemed to be running up a huge debt with no visible way to achieve solvency.

Denial : We have coming before us a Memorial Health Systems in deep denial. They deny that anything is their fault: they never imagined the situation would be as it is. They deny that patients are staying away in droves, or if so, it isn’t because Ormond runs a crummy operation.

The roof : I have to hand an item dated 1992, being an evaluation of the administrator at West Volusia Memorial, in which he is criticized for not having the roof fixed, and noting that the problems had been known for three years. I also have to hand my own correspondence to the Board, dated 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 concerning that very topic. Having toured the facility briefly, I had become personally aware of areas being damaged by water. If Mr. Lind was unaware of the situation it is either through laziness and failure to investigate, or simple incompetence. Whichever is true, no one should trust Mr. Lind to run our hospital, and he should be sacked forthwith.

Other Conditions : A quick tour of the hospital would have told Mr. Lind why the Authority had been planning to do upgrades and repairs. As a taxing entity, we were well positioned, with multiple suitors wanting our bonds. Both need and financing were clear: if Ormond couldn’t be bothered to look before taking over, perhaps they need a more interested leader.

Indigent Care : I have to hand tax bills dating back to the 1980s, when I bought my home, on all of which bills assessments are shown to provide for the care of the indigent. I can excuse Mr. Lind from knowing about indigent care if he is so over-paid that he can ignore his tax bills, or if he is a tenant and does not see them. However, prior to taking over a tax-supported hospital, he should have checked to see where the taxes went. Further, we should note that the lease originally called for him to be paid ‘‘cost plus’’, and it was changed at his request. We are paying him what he asked for, which is more than medicare/medicaid, and there is no doubt of collection which might devalue the actual payment. If care for the indigent, at rates he requested, came as a surprise to him, perhaps he should not be considered enlightened enough to run our hospital.

Cost Accounting : I take note that Ormond preferred not to give us an accounting of costs within two years of taking over, as called for in the contract. It’s hard for a business to succeed if it doesn’t have a handle on costs. We have an example in Ormond of one which appears both clueless and unsuccessful.

Lake County : It hasn’t moved. For longer than I have lived here in West Volusia, Lake County has been located right where it is today. If Mr. Lind can’t afford a map on $316,253 per year, then he isn’t financially savvy enough to be trusted with our money and facilities. I remember many years ago the Authority discussed the issue of Lake County indigents, and had Mr. Lind been diligent he surely could have found out what was across the river.

Orange City facility : It hasn’t moved, either. If Mr. Lind didn’t have a list of hospitals in Volusia County, he should have written to Tallahassee and ordered a list. Being surprised is not an adequate response. Sure the Adventists had a rough start, but after a 2-3 years they had a fine facility. It’s still fine, and doing well enough to want more beds. They run a clean hospital in which emergencies are handled promptly in the E.R. and in-patients don’t wait for 45 minutes for a bed-pan. I take note also that Orange City has dramatically cut its reliance on taxes for indigent care at the same time Mr. Lind is grovelling for more.

Real Problem : I still remember the president of the Citizen Advisory Committee coming to the Board and telling us of the lack of care shown by Ormond. Unclean facilities, excessive use of pool nurses, over-long waits in the E.R., over-long waits for bed pans and clean sheets, and similar reports are all results of the same underlying failure to care. That comes from the top, and I submit that we can not give more money without seeing real change. Perhaps a crummy operation suits on the east side of the County, but our people don’t accept it. Don’t believe me? Then believe Mr. Lind and his reports of Orange City eating his lunch for him. Orange City cares.

Sunshine : Of course we can not neglect the sunshine issue as it relates to the Authority. As Ormond comes and advises the Board that they need money, and the amounts thereof, whether for indigent care, pure subsidy, or retirement, they become part of the Authority’s decision-making process. Unless the Authority’s decision-making process is carried out in the sun-shine, the result can not be considered legitimate. The public have a right to be present and to be heard at all stages of the decision-making process: if it is not open to public scrutiny, how can we trust the result?

Until these issues are addressed by Ormond, I have reservations about giving them more money. You should, too.


Tanner Andrews

CC: Richard Lind / M.H.S. (fax +1 904 672 9157)
CC: Barb Shepherd / DeLand Beacon
CC: Tom Berson / Daytona News-Journal
CC: Purvette Bryant / Orlando Sentinel

Posting of this letter is a paid political advertisement provided by Tanner Andrews, P.O. Box 1208, DeLand 32721, independent of any campaign or committee. This material is also on display at the offices of the West Volusia Hospital Authority. No candidate has approved this material.

@(#)hosp0005.txt 1.0 24-Feb-2000

proc with hmac.ta2