Miami-Dade Commissioners plan to pick replacements for Jackson overseer
By Ashley Hopkins
The Miami-Dade County Commission voted Tuesday to support Chairman Joe Martinez's call to abandon Jackson Memorial's Public Health Trust for a financial advisory board and plans to pick members next Tuesday.
But while some commissioners thought the quick step could help save the cash-strapped public hospital, others worried that the commission was rushing to a rash decision.
Without $67 million in local and state funding, Jackson could end the fiscal year with less than 14 days of cash, short of meeting payroll. The $107 million loss expected by Sept. 30 could leave a $413 million gap in fiscal 2012.
Last year, with Jackson facing a $230 million deficit, the commission amended the county charter to permit it to create a recovery board if the public hospital wasn't making payroll, if debts remained unpaid or if management couldn't deal with outstanding issues.
Concerned that the Public Health Trust's size and composition works against the "solution-driven efforts that could ensure [the hospital's] tangible success," Mr. Martinez issued April 15 a report calling for the recovery board.
The seven-member board is to assume the powers of the trust and will have two years to "swiftly and decisively… address the severity of the Jackson Health System financial crisis."
To ensure that the board could act "expeditiously and effectively without concerns of how the [county commission] will react," Mr. Martinez's proposal includes a provision that prevents the commission from overriding board action without a two-thirds vote.
While the commission agreed the trust's size should shrink to increase efficiency, some questioned whether creating another board would only complicate Jackson's governance.
Since Jackson's new CEO, Carlos Migoya, has just taken over, Commissioner Barbara Jordan recommended that he get a chance to correct problems before committing to a quick fix.
"The new CEO is supposed to be the expert," she said. "Let him do his job… Why cripple him even further with another new board?"
Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz agreed that Mr. Migoya has his job cut out for him, but said the commission had to act quickly to save Jackson. With reports that the hospital has less than 14 days of cash on hand, he urged fellow commissioners to move Mr. Martinez's item forward.
"This problem did not happen overnight," he said. "The problem has been coming for over a decade.… The rubber has met the road, and it's time to move."
As the commission agreed to establish the board, commissioners must now appoint four members. The future county mayor, the chair of the Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation and the president of the South Florida AFL-CIO are to select the final three.
While Mr. Martinez recommended that the commission nominate Marcus Lapciuc, the Public Health Trust's upcoming chair, and Darryl Sharpton of Sharpton, Brunson & Company PA, he also asked the commission to accept nominations from Florida International University and the University of Miami.
According to Mr. Martinez, FIU nominated Jorge Arrizurieta, upcoming vice chair of the Public Health Trust, and UM nominated Joe Arriola, a trustee and former Miami city manager.
But quoting from a list of recommendations from the county's Hospital Governance Taskforce, Commissioner Sally Heyman asked that the recovery board not include Jackson stakeholders, a position the commission supported. Given the board's small size, she recommended that each commissioner submit recommendations to the clerk of the board at the beginning of next week.
To ensure that board members are qualified, Ms. Jordan co-signed Ms. Heyman's call to hold off on appointments until all commissioners could make recommendations.
"I'm concerned that in the rush to do this we're missing out on the process to get the best people that we feel would be needed for the recovery board," she said.
The commission is to submit all recommendations to the clerk of the board by May 10 and appoint members following that day's Public Health & Safety Administration meeting.
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