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As the Lee County Board of Commissioners prepares to weigh the next step in the potential conversion of Lee Health from a public to private nonprofit with a workshop July 30, Fort Myers physician Dr. Raymond Kordonowy has asked the board to heed his calls for additional financial information.  

The Lee Health board of directors voted 9-1 in mid-June to proceed with the conversion, triggering a 120-day period in which Lee Health and the Board of County Commissioners may negotiate, draft and approve a proposed conversion agreement that comports with the public health district’s amended enabling act [HB 227, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2023],” according to an email from Betsy Clayton, director of the county Office of Community Engagement. 

Clayton’s email pointed out that “any proposed agreement and all supporting documents must be published for at least 45 days prior to ratification,” and said that given this timeline commissioners will conduct a workshop July 30 following its regular meeting. The workshop is open to the public and can be viewed online. She said there is “no hard date” for publishing the proposed agreement and all supporting documents at this time. 

Petition submitted to commissioners 

Kordonowy, an internist who has practiced medicine in Fort Myers for more than 30 years, first presented a petition asking for additional financial disclosures, including assets by item and business relationships, from Lee Health at a public hearing hosted by the health care system in late April. 

Since then, he also reached out to the office of Florida’s attorney general asking the state to review the situation and his petition, since he said the 2023 enabling act requires a level of disclosure beyond what the system has provided. Earlier this week, he officially submitted his petition to the county.  

Kordonowy asked the attorney general’s office via email to review the enabling act “and to inform Lee Health and the county commissioners that they have a legislated duty to provide the public with a full accounting of all assets, liabilities, as well as the plan for how transferring to a nonpublic, private nonprofit entity will be handled.” 

Kordonowy said he was told by Associate Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Weilhammer that “this is not an issue for them and their jurisdiction” and Kordonowy should continue to seek the financial information through a public records request, which Kordonowy said he has filed. 

Kordonowy remains concerned the public does not have a full understanding of the system’s financial holdings, including properties owned. 

“Their name is on a lot of property,” he said. “My point is, again, the public is being asked to just surrender these assets and we don’t know what they are. It concerns me that we really don’t know because Lee Health uses different company names and different resources for contracting. And I personally, as a citizen, am interested in knowing what those things are because they’re going to have ramifications if they’re going to assume these things under their corporate structure.” 

He is interested in learning more about the system’s “enterprise value” before its “going to just be surrendered to them.” 

Kordonowy sent a letter via email July 1 to county Commissioners Kevin Ruane, Cecil Pendergrass, Ray Sandelli, Brian Hamman and Mike Greenwell with a copy of the petition he previously submitted to the Lee Health board and several articles he published in his Substack platform. 

“Lee Health is seeking to dissolve its public charter in direct response to perceived competition,” Kordowny wrote to the commissioners. “It should be noted by the commissioners that Lee Health would have been happy to enjoy the protections of that charter indefinitely so long as they had protection from competition. They are asking the public to hand over 50 years of accumulated asset in exchange for a hollow promise to provide safety net services to the community.” 

Lee Health maintains that it plans to fulfill its “safety net” mission of providing care to patients regardless of ability to pay “in perpetuity” as part of any conversion agreement with the county. 

Kordonowy’s email went on to ask the commissioners to review Section 5 of the enabling act pertaining to required accounting. “In doing so you will then note the state’s legislation requires the commissioners and the public be provided a full accounting of the enterprise value to be incorporated into your deliberations,” he wrote.  

Lee Health plans to provide a more complete listing 

Dr. Larry Antonucci

In a mid-June interview following the Lee Health board’s affirmative vote on the conversion, Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of the system, said the enabling act “does not require a valuation of the assets.” 

“Certainly, all of our assets and liabilities are public information; it’s been that way since we became public in the 1960s and it’s on the website,” he said. “Whatever assets are going to be transferred to the new organization are certainly reflected in our balance sheet. Now, the enabling act does require us to provide a more complete listing of that, which of course will be done as part of this process over the next 120 days. 

“And again, it’s going to be a listing of the assets; it’s not going to be necessarily a valuation of each asset. That was felt to be unnecessary since there is not a sale of any of the assets: it’s simply a transfer to the new, [private] not-for-profit.” 

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