Credited with expanding one of South Florida's more aggressive public healthcare systems, James R. Nathan, president and chief executive officer of Lee Memorial Health System, is quitting to become a consultant.
The 50-year-old Nathan has worked for the Fort Myers, Fla.-based system for 22 years, including 16 as its top executive. In August, he's joining Legacy Alliance, a consulting firm specializing in organizational leadership.
"My motivation is to try to stimulate consolidation," he said. "(Healthcare consolidation) isn't for the purpose of building an empire but to get to build some economies. The longer they wait, they play into the hands of the Wall Street conglomerates."
Under Nathan's stewardship, Lee Memorial grew from a single hospital to a system of three hospitals with some $250 million in annual revenues. Its most recent acquisition was one of Lee Memorial's most notable periods for Nathan.
Last year, Lee Memorial acquired embattled Cape Coral (Fla.) Hospital for $145 million, edging out Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. of Nashville, which bid $3 million less.
Cape Coral had been reeling financially, having lost $37 million over a three-year period ended last year. Cape Coral had many problems, including a $10 million fine imposed by the Internal Revenue Service for misspending tax-exempt bond proceeds.
And to complete the deal, Lee Memorial beat back a closely watched antitrust challenge from the Federal Trade Commission. The case tested the FTC's federal antitrust jurisdiction over a local public hospital that had a state antitrust exemption.