The board of the embattled Broward Health public hospital system decided Wednesday—despite the objections of its chairman—to hold a private meeting to discuss an FBI investigation into the system, according to the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The board voted 5-2 to delay a discussion over an e-mail from Wayne Black, a corporate private investigator hired by Broward Health, alleging the system's lawyers were hindering the FBI investigation. The board decided to try to hold the meeting in private as long as its lawyers can confirm that doing so wouldn't be in violation of the Florida open meetings law, according to the newspaper.
Board members in favor of closing the meeting worried that holding it in the open could compromise the investigation.
But board Chairman David Di Pietro argued that the board should be transparent.
“I totally and unequivocally disagree that this meeting should be in the shade,” he said, according to the Sun Sentinel. “I'm fully prepared to not be a part of this board if we're going to do that.”
When asked for further comment on the issue, Broward Health sent Modern Healthcare a letter its general counsel, Lynn Barrett, wrote to the board Thursday, following the initial meeting. In the letter, Barrett denied impeding any investigations. Barrett said she's seeking a legal opinion on the issue of whether to the board should close a future meeting to discuss the issues.
“Our goal is to make sure that this Board has the ability to discuss in the most appropriate forum the information necessary for it to fully respond and cooperate in any investigation,” Barrett wrote.
The battle is the latest in a string of challenges and controversies facing the system. The system's CEO, Nabil El Sanadi, killed himself last month. The system reportedly faces state and federal investigations. And in September, Broward agreed to pay the government $69.5 million to settle allegations it illegally paid doctors for referrals.
According to the Sun Sentinel, Black said El Sanadi hired him because the former CEO was worried about corruption within the system. Black has said his evidence led to the FBI investigation, according to Florida Bulldog, a not-for-profit investigative journalism organization.