Broward Health Commissioner Criticized For Intervening For Clients


The North Broward Hospital District changed their name to Broward Health more than a year ago.

Names are easy to change.

But old practices die hard at the system once notorious for insider dealing.

A two-week old investigative report obtained by states that Broward Health Commissioner Joseph Cobo intervened with staff members on behalf of his clients.

Here’s the story:

Cobo had healthcare management clients who wanted a lease in a district-owned medical building.

The way it looked to some top Broward Health officials, Cobo was meddling with the administration.

Broward Health was so concerned it hired a lawyer to investigate Cobo‘s intervention with the staff.

His report was released two weeks ago.

“I was glad to see the report cleared me, Cobo told The Miami Herald.

Well, not quite.

The report stated Cobo’s interference created no “significant or material damage.  It also warned Cobo “could be perceived as overstepping the boundaries.

In public life, perception is everything.

Commissioners, who are appointed by the governor, are by law restricted to only providing oversight to the public hospital system.

The law restricts management to the staff.  Only they can manage the healthcare system, which has four hospitals and dozens of clinics north of Griffin Road.

The rental dispute Cobo got involved in concerned space in the medical building next to Imperial Point.  That is clearly an administrative matter and should be hands off to a commissioner.

Cobo represented two doctors who wanted to take over a clinic in the building.

In my opinion, Cobo should not represent anyone doing business with the district.

It doesn’t pass the smell test.  It harkens back to the bad ol’ days when the health system was mined for political contributions and sweetheart contracts.

However, such an arrangement is legal as long as Cobo doesn’t interfere with the staff.

The investigative report for the district by lawyer Martin Goldberg of Lash & Goldberg, outlined how Cobo intervened in the lease dispute:

  • He reviewed the lease terms and commented the rent being charged by the district “seemed high.
  • He called Calvin Gildewell, chief executive of Imperial Point Hospital.  He got Gildewll on the phone and handed the phone to his clients.
  • He asked that the locks be changed on the office leased from the district. Gildewell objected to changing the locks.
  • He visited the leased space with his clients and attorney Shari McCartney, of Tripp Scott.  That law firm also does business with the district.
  • McCartney later called another healthcare official involved in the dispute and stated, according to the report: “A board commissioner from Broward Health was assisting the physicians in getting a least from Broward Health.

At some point during the negotiations over the lease, Glidewell became so concerned about Cobo’s involvement that he contacted Troy Kishbaugh, who at the time was acting general counsel for the district.

Kishbaugh then told Frank Nask, president and chief executive of Broward Health, that  “Cobo (was) injecting himself into Broward Health’s operational management and could be reportable to the Florida Commission on Ethics, according to the report.

At some point, Cobo advised an Imperial Point official that he was “backing off on his involvement in the lease.

The report concludes:

“Cobo placed himself in a position that presented the appearance of impropriety.  At worst, his involvement could be viewed as using his position to benefit private clients.  At best, his involvement could be viewed as inadvertently allowing his clients or others to use his position to further their own agendas.

It was decided by commissioners that Cobo be counseled about the ethics laws, rather than report him to the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The actions of Cobo should be a warning sign to the other commissioners.

Cobo and most of the commission are business types. He probably didn’t realize he was doing anything wrong.

In business, what he did was common practice.  In public life, it’s a no-no.

Broward Health needs to institute ethics training for commissioners immediately.  Commissioners should have an ethics manual written for them explaining the boundaries of their positions.

They owe it to be the public.  They need to make sure this investigation of a commissioner’s actions is the last one.

10 Responses to “Broward Health Commissioner Criticized For Intervening For Clients”

  1. Why I Go To Memorial says:

    Broward Health’s Broward General is not a comfortable place to get well. It is noisy and the nurses are overworked. Ever since they broke the unionization drive several years ago, the management thinks it can ignore the employees and dump as much extra work on them as is humanly possible. That is why I go to Memorial in Hollywood when I am unfortunately enough to need a procedure.

  2. The Tattler says:

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Dig deeper and you will find all kinds of conflicts and overpayments to favored physicians. The place is a mess. They just do a better job of hiding than Trower did.

  3. E. Camille says:

    This guy sounds like a typical “wannabe” who has his own interests at heart, not those of the public’s healthcare, especially the poor.
    Keep digging..I guarantee there’s more than this one.

  4. Wells says:

    This looks pretty serious. One thing that troubles me is the fact a Commissioner who is sworn to represent the interests of Broward Health put the interest of his paying clients first. By suggesting to the CEO that the “rent is too high”, exactly who is he representing? A commissioner should have no part in that discussion, never mind if he is being paid by a client. And the lawyer saying a Board Commissioner is going to have the lease handled the next day. What’s that all about. I think the County Commission should remove this guy. If he hasn’t broken any laws, the laws need to be changed.

  5. Appointed Is The Reason says:

    What reason is there that important jobs like this are appointed by the governor? Crist is alright, but what if we had another Jeb Bush squared? THE HOSPITAL DISTRICT SHOULD BE A PART OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT SO THAT THOSE WHO RUN IT ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO VOTERS. PERIOD.

  6. Jeff says:

    The report is all a lie. Why not look at others who real have a conflict and have had a conflict since getting on the board. (Bernstein and his cronies) Start with the past general conusel and her deputy. Who lies and destroys documents.

  7. Doctor says:

    It looks like the report is an independent review by an outside body. For what purpose would they lie? Do they have some reason for making all this up against this particular Commissioner? The Administrator of Imperial is lying too? And is the lawyer for the Commissioner’s clients lying also when she says the commissioner is going to settle the rent issue? Wow. That’s a pretty big conspiracy. I don’t know much about much, but it just doesn’t seem right that a public official being paid by clients should be in any way involved if there is business between his clients and the organization he is sworn to represent. Seems like the person should make a choice. Serve in a public role, or run his business, but not both. The county or the state should pass a law that prevents this from happening if its not already against the law, and if it is, someone should do something to stop this.

  8. I am a Doctor says:

    The Administrator IP lies to doctors all the time. He is not well like by the doctors and we loved Dottie. She was a class act and could be taken for her word. And why would a Lawyer destroy records, what kind of an attorney is that. He should be take before the Florida Bar or investigated himself. I am not a client of the commissioner or have ever been, but his reputation has always been excellent. At least better then some other who sever now or in the past.

  9. Country Doctor says:

    The construction of all these medical buildings involve a great deal of corruption. What is Bernstein’s interest? Why is Cobo a medical consultant interfacing with district officials?

  10. Tripp Scott Is The Story says:

    Follow the money from the various boards appointed by the governor to Tripp Scott’s law firm. They have a growing business at a half dozen agencies and governments in Broward. Follow The Money.