A longtime critic accused Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, of not investing enough in new equipment at its hospitals to keep physicians loyal. Investor and physician M. Lee Pearce, who has tangled with Tenet for many years, said Tenet's 15 Florida hospitals lost $15.3 million on operations in 2004, compared with operating income of $269.4 million in the prior year. The hospitals accounted for $312.1 million of Tenet's $1.24 billion in asset impairment charges in 2004. Tenet spokesman Steve Campanini said Pearce's contentions were a continuation of his five-year campaign to pressure the company into buying some real estate from Pearce at inflated prices. The parcels of land are near Tenet hospitals in Florida, Campanini said.
A spokesman for Pearce said Tenet was "skirting" the issue. "The bigger problem is: What are they going to do to stop the bleeding?" the spokesman said. Pearce wants Tenet to replace its regional vice president overseeing the Florida hospitals, sell off underperforming hospitals, reinvest the proceeds in the remaining hospitals and step up efforts to improve quality. -- by Vince Galloro