BY BUDDY NEVINS
The new general counsel of the North Broward Hospital District is such an outsider he isn’t even a member of the Florida Bar.
That’s a good thing at an agency that for too long has been run by insiders.
The question is whether the new General Counsel Marc Goldstone will be allowed to run his own show.
Or whether the insiders will still be in charge. Whether the plugged-in Fort Lauderdale lawyers lusting after the district’s millions in legal fees will be running him.
We’ll have to see.
Goldstone comes to the always-controversial hospital district marketed to the public as Broward Health from Tennessee’s Community Health Systems.
Community Health is the largest chain of publicly-traded hospitals in the United States, operating in 28 states. Goldstone was associate general counsel.
Goldstone is a member of the New Jersey and Pennslylvania Bar. He had Florida In-House Counsel Certification in 2007, according to his resume.
In a unique twist for a general counsel, he also paramedic certification in New Jersey at one time.
Goldstone does have one connection to Fort Lauderdale, which is a strange one. He worked locally in 2005-2007 for Tenet Health System, which for years was one of the district’s arch competitors.
I hope Goldstone knows what he is getting into. The North Broward district has been a cauldron of competing political interests for years.
In fact, it is whispered in political circles that the district is quietly controlled from behind the scenes by George LeMieux. That’s Gov. Charlie Crist’s former chief of staff and a lawyer at Gunster Yoakley.
One long-time political observer said Crist allowed LeMieux to “virtually name” the appointees to the governing board of the hospital district. They now owe their allegiance to him.
The governing board is appointed by the governor to set the general direction of the district. They hire administrators to actually run the public hospitals and clinics north of Griffin Road.
Goldstone’s hiring could end two years of stumbling by the governing board.
The board hired Alan Levine as Broward Health’s CEO and president in 2006. They hired General Counsel Laura Seidman about the same time.
Both ended up rubbing some members of the board the wrong way and leaving.
Levine was a brilliant health care professional who had been the head of the state Agency for Health Care Administration before coming to Fort Lauderdale. He was used to making decisions on his own.
When I was still at the Sun-Sentinel, Levine told me he wanted to run the district his own way or he would quit.
That’s exactly what he did in January 2008 after some members of the board attempted to put him on a leash.
One other big reason for Levine’s departure: He was viewed as loyal to former Gov. Jeb Bush, having worked for him at the health care administration.
The Crist appointees who took over the board wanted someone loyal to them and Crist.
Levine left to take over Louisiana’s state health agency about a year later, in January 2008.
Seidman lasted a little longer. She was given a bad evaluation in April 2008 accused of not knowing enough health care law and taking too many days off.
Negotiations took place. LeMieux reportedly sent a representative to help ease her out the door.
Seidman resigned and is being paid her $228,000 salary until late March of this year, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Goldstone has already begun work.