CCFC-Weems CEO Resigns

on Monday, 12 August 2019.

What’s next for Weems and our County’s Healthcare Future?

Hello Friends:

As a result of a strong vote of no confidence by County Commissioners on Tuesday the 13th, H.D. Cannington resigned as the sixth CEO hired over the last 12 years for Weems Hospital. Mr. Cannington’s proposal to hire a Doctor at a first year cost of approximately $300,000 including salary, incentives, head hunter fees and Malpractice insurance was not accepted. The Commissioners finally demonstrated their real concern for the reality of the Weems financial situation. But, sadly, I am not sure the real lesson of this situation has been understood by the Commissioners who must represent and act on behalf of the public they serve. Please read on….

An Open Letter to the Commissioners of Franklin County

Community Healthcare Crisis
hat Now?

More than $18 million dollars of tax funds have been spent over the last 12 years, and still the county struggles without a successful and safe health care facility of which we can all be proud.

Commissioner Boldt, local resident Gail Riegelmayer and Allan Feifer of the CCFC met with Weems CEO Cannington May 14th to request answers to questions concerning Weems’ current and future financial health. He was unable to provide answers to most of our questions. Now, the Commission is finally aware that Weems has been borrowing from both operational and capital portions of the sales tax revenue, and has been consuming nearly 100% of the Healthcare Trust Fund Tax for their Operations.

The Commission has now also been made aware of a lapse in coverage at Weems for Workers Compensation Insurance after they were dropped (with notice) by their previous carrier. Weems is now in the dreaded State Pool and faces significant financial penalties if they self-report as is required by law. There was a significant injury during the lapsed period. A recent and very worrisome onsite inspection and subsequent report by ACHA (the State agency that monitors and inspects hospitals.) deflected by CEO Cannington, assured the commission that the infractions were “of little concern” although they included failures in required sterilization procedures and reporting multiple failures of administrative leadership and other specific infractions that ultimately required a 24 hour a day “Fire Watch” by the FCSO.

Additionally, significant concerns have now been brought to light about the handling of insurance for major Weems roof repairs and replacement. Commissioners learned that the vitally important re-roofing job at Weems is months behind schedule and has not even commenced. In addition, significant personnel issues have come to light, including claims of a hostile work environment and whistle blower status for some employees.

We at CCFC fear this overall situation and other failures may all get worse the closer Commissioners look.

So, what’s next? Do we go looking for the 7th CEO? I sure hope not. The CCFC believes that Mr. Cannington’s departure allows for a necessary pause in this healthcare services process. While there will be some short-term need for interim leadership at the hospital, that person would serve as a placeholder while we work together to sort out healthcare needs and wants for Franklin county healthcare.

We also urge a freeze on last month’s decision to spend an additional $221,000 more (In addition to nearly $1.5 million spent on the project so far) in the hopeful search that an affordable Guaranteed Maximum Price can be found to build the proposed addition and to remodel Weems. Instead, let us look at some more practical alternatives to service the 1550 people who voted twelve years ago for a pie-in-the-sky hospital as promoted back then which is/was neither practical nor realistic today.

Best practices demonstrate that our county cannot afford a full service, well equipped and fully staffed hospital to meet the standards expected and even required for today. We cannot afford fully equipped operating rooms and specialized staff, nor dialysis equipment and staff, nor cath labs, nor full time rehab and the myriad other expensive services and multi-million dollar equipment considered “standard” in hospitals of today.

Weems has primarily been a “pack’em and ship’em” operation. Patients are frequently sent elsewhere for real treatment and further evaluation. In general, only minor injuries and short term illnesses are handled locally.

CCFC believes we can raise up our local healthcare game! Public citizens, please consider these possibilities:

  1. Centralize any new facility in Eastpoint where it can serve a larger base and better attract and serve individuals from SGI and further East. Yes we can!
  2. Rightsizing for a 24 hour a day Emergency Room with observation beds and the latest Emergency Care technology. (Most people don’t realize that the “new” Weems will only have their existing dated equipment and technology. New, updated modern equipment is a must for satisfactory patient care today! We can build a new facility with access to real doctors and the best equipment. It can save lives. We CAN do well with a new, smaller, modern facility to serve today’s local patients. Yes we can!
  3. We must realistically live within our means. Weems projects that it will lose a staggering $2.3 million this fiscal year before subsidies leaving a net cash loss of approximately $944,000 after all subsidies this year alone. Where will all the necessary operational cash come from now? NO, we cannot let this money drain continue to happen!
  4. We can and must partner with a healthcare system that will put ‘skin in the game’ and instead of borrowing possibly upwards of $15 million, more or less! We must figure out how to avoid borrowing to excess and, in the process, we can get a better facility. Yes we can!
  5. As we build, staff and operate this new facility, we will bring local pride, jobs, better outcomes and sanity back to Franklin County Healthcare. Yes we can!
  6. We suggest that a permanent Healthcare Task Force be created to incentivize best practices, create more community involvement and otherwise oversee a new healthcare partnership. This carefully chosen group would replace the existing management and oversight structure and better represent our consumers. Individuals on this task force would include local and other healthcare professionals in addition to appropriate consumers and successful business people, all of whom would report monthly to the Commission. Yes, we can!

Commissioners; please start with this first step. Speak to the citizens of Franklin County. We have experts, both retired and active, community organizers, healthcare professionals and others that would like to talk, and actually be heard by their Commissioners on behalf of better healthcare outcomes in Franklin County. We need such a dialogue, currently impossible since the written policy of “Non Engagement” was enacted a couple of years ago. We ask you to please, open your minds and your hearts to opinions that may seem different from your own but in the end, we believe that all of us want the same thing you do…the best healthcare that we can deliver and afford. Yes, we can!

What do you say Commissioners? Can the people be allowed, and even encouraged to publicly revisit this locally important health care issue? More than $18 million has been spent over the last 12 years, and still the county struggles without a successful and safe health care facility of which we can all be proud. (By the way, Commissioners, by your own admission, you told us that none of you go to Weems for your own care.) Can you admit we need better? It’s always been up to you Commissioners.

”What do you say?” Can you and will you agree that it is well beyond time for a positive change for all of us?

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Commissioner Bert Boldt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 519-4966

Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Chairman Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Please feel free to redistribute this email to your friends!