Edd Weiner, R.A.,A.I.A., CEO – Lehigh Acres Economic Development Board
by Edd Weiner, R.A.,A.I.A., CEO – Lehigh Acres Economic Development Board
Today’s (Feb. 5, 2013) headline in the News-Press – “Hospital eyes move, fresh start” is an unbelievable slap in the face to the 90,000 + residents of Lehigh Acres, as well as, the residents from Buckingham, Alva, Gateway and our neighboring counties (Hendry and Collier) who may rely on their “local” hospital for both emergency and acute care medical attention. Does HMA or their administrator, Joanie Jeannette, really think that an accident victim in Lehigh Acres (or the surrounding area), will ask to be transported to Lehigh Regional in a Lehigh Fire Rescue ambulance, only to be stabilized and transported to another facility in Lee County, incurring double fees from both transporters and hospitals? Are they serious when they say their “new” facility “…will also likely be within 15 minutes driving time from Lehigh”? And more arrogantly she says “… a yet undecided site east of Interstate 75, between Colonial and Corkscrew Rd. I don’t know what means of transportation Ms. Jeannette uses to travel, but there is NOTHING within15 minutes of Lehigh Acres. More arrogantly still, is the statement “…we will not abandon Lehigh. That’s not what I do, and that’s not what the hospital does.” Ms. Jeannette started abandoning Lehigh Acres almost from the first moment she arrived. Whereas previous administrators had supported the community through Economic Development, Community Council, Rotary or Kiwanis, she decided these piddling organizations were not worth her, or her colleagues’ time, effort or money to support. With the encouragement of some of her Hospital Board, she was convinced everything is just rosy in Lehigh Acres, and the Hospital need not waste time trying to improve the community. Although the Hospital is a member of, and supports the Greater Lehigh Chamber of Commerce financially, some of her decisions as a member of the Board have been questionable. She even dismantled the Hospital’s Wound Care Operation, as well as dismissing several doctors from the Hospital who provided unique services to Lehigh Acres’ residents and members of the surrounding community.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services states that “…only 44 percent of patients last year would “definitely” recommend the health center to others…” Two previous administrators turned around the image of the Hospital that had been badly damaged in previous years. If only 44 percent of the patients would return, it strikes me as the image has again slipped. What would a restaurant do if only 44 percent of their customers returned to do business? What would a bank do if only 44 percent of their customers kept their accounts there? What would a CPA or Doctor do if only 44 percent of their clients returned?
The Economic Development Board, the Community Council, the Lehigh Acres Community Planning Panel, will voice their strong objections to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, and not grant Lehigh Regional Medical Center a Certificate of Need to open another facility, and leave Lehigh Acres without a medical facility.
We hope other members of the community will do the same.