In a gesture aimed at increasing community participation in hospital governance, the board of trustees of Boca Raton (Fla.) Community Hospital has voted to expand its membership to 21 seats from 11.
The move comes less than two months after the hospital and its board were sued twice over the proposed sale to a joint venture of three Florida not-for-profit healthcare systems. The board has since shelved the plan to sell the 334-bed not-for-profit facility (Dec. 23-30, 1996, p. 6).
"We're getting more input and a lot more expertise on the board," said the board's new chairman, A.E. "Bud" Osborne, who's been a board member for the past six years. "We've dramatically improved the capabilities of the board, and we needed it."
Some major business leaders are among the new community board members, including David Fuente, chairman and chief executive officer of Office Depot, and Donald Kohnken, former president of Grace Specialty Chemicals and CEO of National Medical Care.
Both suits, which remain active in Palm Beach Circuit Court, were filed after the board began considering a deal in which Allegany Health System, Tampa, Fla; Intracoastal Health Systems, West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Eastern Mercy Health System, Radnor, Pa., would purchase the facility for $190 million and assume an undisclosed amount of its debt.
The new board isn't ruling out renewing discussions with the not-for-profit systems, but it is looking at other options.
"We're just going to sit tight for a period of time until we get some meaningful discussion and orientation for our new members," Osborne said. "After that, it's wide open. Everything is on the table except the status quo."
The Florida attorney general filed the first suit against the hospital and its board, demanding the proposed sale to the three not-for-profit systems be consistent with the wishes of the hospital's donors. Hospitals across the country are watching the suit because it's leading to closer scrutiny of sales of not-for-profit hospitals to other not-for-profits. Previous litigation involved deals with for-profit chains as the buyers.
A group of community citizens and hospital founders known as Save Our Hospital also sued, accusing trustees of scheming to control sale proceeds. The suit says the hospital should remain under local control to preserve the intention of donors in the community.