It’s strategic planning day at the Palm Beach County Health Care District, but the most controversial part of the day’s discussion, what to do about declining admissions at Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade, isn’t open to the public.
At the last minute, the district modified the agenda of its “District Hospital Holdings” strategic planning session and declared the meeting closed to the public. When a Post editorial board member tried to attend the meeting, she was asked to leave.
As the editorial board wrote on Sunday, the hospital’s average daily census is now 26.4, down from 30 in 2011, when the Health Care District hired a consultant to try to improve Lakeside’s market share. Its emergency room has held its own, with 24,500 visits last year. But the hospital booked a $16 million loss last year, due in part to a $6 million state fine for overcharges which the district has contested. It opened just six years ago with 70 beds.
Health Care District General Counsel Nicholas Romanello said the meeting was closed to the public because a “strategic partnership” with another hospital or hospital group was under consideration. He said any votes on the issue would only take place at a properly noticed public meeting. The district will meet in open session later today at 1:30 the Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach to discuss the tax rate for next year. The district has proposed keeping the rate at its current level, rather than rolling it back to reflect increased property values. [Original Story]