I ran across this item today about the Lower Florida Keys Hospital District board. Mr. Harry Bethel wrote the governor about the conduct of the board. Here are a couple of his concerns.
In his letter to the governor, Bethel questions the absolute authority and possible conflicts of interest surrounding Dr. Mehmet Aylin Atilla’s oversight of the contract between the hospital and a group of emergency room doctors called MD4ER. Bethel also questions Atilla’s authority to bring disciplinary charges against local doctors and the contracted ER doctors’ apparent failure to contact a patient’s primary physician when that patient is brought to the emergency room.
Bethel also addresses the fact that for 11 months last year the emergency room doctors, who bill separately from the hospital, did not accept Blue Cross Blue Shield, the largest insurance provider in the county. During that time, patients with BCBS insurance who visited the emergency room at Lower Keys Medical Center were charged significantly more for emergency room doctors who were considered “out-of-network” because they were not properly credentialed by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
This excerpt really got me.
“I was not prepared for the disrespect and confrontational tone in which I, physicians and members of the community would be attacked,” Bethel wrote. “At that meeting [Hospital CEO] Nicki Will, Dr. Robin Lockwood and Dr. Aylin Atilla and Dr. Herrera came in and tried to belittle and embarrass members of the public who came to address your board about our experiences. Doctors Attila and Herrera actually called the public ‘liars’ about incidents … at which neither doctor was present.”
Bethel further tells the governor that hospital CEO Nicki Will told those present at the meeting that the only way to register a complaint against the hospital is to contact their patient advocate or administrator’s office.
“However, every person who attended the meeting on March 14 stated that their calls to both of these advocates had gone unanswered,” Bethel wrote.
I’ve forwarded my own concerns about the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) board to the governor’s office about Bob Dean. Shortly after that the governor’s office appointed Richard Toppino to the FKAA board, which is a conflict of interest just waiting to happen. Neither of those concerns have been acknowledged or addressed. The appointment process is very secretive. No input is solicited from the public. No records are made available to the public unless they are specifically requested.
The deliberations, if there are any, are conducted out of the public eye. As far as I can tell, no vetting of the applicants is done other than soliciting letters of recommendation. There’s no background check. Nobody looks into potential conflicts of interest. There is no recourse if an inappropriate applicant is appointed. The public just has to accept it.
I hope that Mr. Bethel has better luck than I did.