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


Joanne: please forward this to Authority Board members with your next delivery. Another letter should follow before the Board meeting, but I make no promises about the timing. I’m copying the two Ormond Boards (MH-WV and Ormond) directly through their offices, who will be able to distribute to the respective Boards. I believe that the MH­WV Board meets tomorrow and should have this at the meeting.

Thursday’s meeting of the Authority struck me as a strong dose of reality. The Board faced facts and four members did not blink. This is a good start, and I submit that we will continue to need strength in the Board over the next several months.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Lind could not interrupt his junket to Atlanta; I guess his priorities lay outside of the hospital. One hears speculation that he was up there ‘‘networking’’, which is a fancy term for what we used to call ‘‘finding a job’’. I trust his speech went well, though in his case he’d have done better to send in an understudy who can speak better.

I would expect that, confronted with their massive debt load, Ormond is likely to accept Mr. Lind’s resignation ‘‘with gratitude’’ and do all they can to assist his departure. They ought to permit departure of the other high ranking folks who got them into this mess.

What The Authority Needs to Do

Clearly, we need to be prepared to take back the hospital. I do not believe that the Board can or should run it directly; as Mr. Portman noted a couple of meetings ago, only Mr. Pittman has the experience to do this, and he already has a job. If we look back to the times of direct Board operation, we are not encouraged.

I also am unconvinced that another lease will help. Mr. Marx 1 once said that he wouldn’t join any club that would have him as a member. I am inclined to believe that we shouldn’t lease the hospital to anyone crazy enough to lease it from us in its current state.

A sale is similarly unpromising: the taxpayers would receive bottom dollar, and in two years the beds will be gone and the hospital closed. None of us want that to happen, but the two likely buyers both covet our beds for Orange City.

Selling, leasing, and direct operation are all unattractive options. Instead, I think we need to find a strong management company to run the hospital on our behalf. A good company will work with us, managing daily details of operation while leaving the Authority Board the power to set overall policy.

A good company will not fear public oversight, because they will do a good job and have nothing to hide. They will know how to hire (and retain!) good nurses and other staff; morale will greatly improve, and with it patient care. They’ll be careful stewards of our money because they’ll know we are watching.

A good manager will also know how to get the message out to the public when the facility is turned around. Under Ormond’s management, the public has no where to turn for improvements here; they are voting with their feet. When we get that hospital straightened out, the public will need to know.

For at least half of the tax district, we have a more convenient location than Orange City. If the hospital is run well, there will be no reason to go any where else for most procedures.

What Ormond Should Do

Obviously, they need to identify the CEO, CFO, and other key members of the management group that got them into this mess. Find out who borrowed all that money.

Find out who bought Peninsula instead of paying off debts. Find out who has grand and expensive plans for Port Orange, but no money for it. Find out who is in charge of the $57 million Flagler project, and who has to beg the State for the first $2 million.

At West Volusia, find out who took over three years to fix the roof. Find out who suffers floors to have carpet instead of terrazo, which can be quickly cleaned and dis-infected. Find out who suffered the waste of the laundry, formerly a money maker for the hospital.

Find out who decided that the public would not be permitted to attend the meetings of the hospital. Find out who told the DeLand docs ‘‘my way or the highway.’’ Find the pseudonymous Mr. Team who devised the ‘‘Success 2000’’ memo at whose expense I have had much mirth.

Once these people are identified, Ormond needs to accept their resignations with both gratitude and haste. Their departure from our hospital in West Volusia, and probably from the entire Ormond system, should benefit the communities served.

It is possible that parts of the Ormond system can be salvaged. Our accountant has not looked at the other facilities. However, at West Volusia, Mr. Le Fils has given us his professional opinion which I am inclined to accept. The Hospital is distressed; it will have trouble raising money; it will find it hard to fund equipment and plant upgrades.

How did this happen? When Ormond started in 1995-96, the hospital had a net worth (assets less liabilities, and excluding certain assets) of nearly $20 million. As of last year end, with some fancy book keeping, the net worth was approximately zero and would have been quite negative without the book keeping.

I submit that, financially, the Hospital Corporation has been ruined. The income is not available to pay the debts; the coverage ratio was negative for FY1998-99. In short, they need a massive cash infusion just to be broke.

If Ormond is to recover, they must depart West Volusia with all due haste. They have failed, and in a spectacular public show. Run away now, before the eggs and tomatoes start flying.

Ormond should probably also find a way to unload Peninsula. Ormond needs to concentrate on its core business. Regarding Flagler, they ought to either turn it into a ‘‘feeder’’ hospital, handling less specialized work but where the core cardiac business is stabilized and transported promptly to Ormond proper. Failing that, they should unload Flagler as well.

There’s no money to build a new Flagler hospital; if they are to stay, re-fit the existing facility, clean, re-light, and re-paint as needed. There’s no money to build in Port Orange; stop pretending.

Mutual Benefit

If Ormond goes back to its core business, they may be able to re-build their cardiac volume. Certainly there are doctors in NW Volusia who can send cardiac work to Ormond.

I do not see West Volusia Memorial going into the heart business. The capital requirements are extreme; the business volume wouldn’t justify it; Halifax (and perhaps a recovered Ormond) offer the services here within Volusia County.

It is to our mutual benefit to have facilities and patients available. Right now, Ormond is neglecting its key business. Let them pay attention, and West Volusians will have a choice of two fine facilities when needed for extreme specialty care.

At the same time, run right, our hospital can serve most of the needs of the community. We won’t have to travel to Halifax, Sanford Regional, or even Orange City. We benefit by having most of the needed care right here in the community, and near-by facilities for the tricky specialty work.


Tanner Andrews

CC: Memorial Hosptial-West Volusia Board
CC: Memorial Health Systems Board
CC: Barb Shepherd / DeLand Beacon
CC: Tom Berson / Daytona News-Journal
CC: Purvette Bryant / Orlando Sentinel

[1] The Mr. Marx in question is of course Groucho.

The current version of this letter, and other information about the management of the hospital which may interest those paying taxes in West Volusia, may be viewed at:

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.

from @(#)hosp0007.txt 1.0 20-Mar-2000

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