Hospital board candidates tackle finances


Hospital board candidates tackle finances


Date: September 15, 2010
by: Robin Roy | City Editor


ELECTION COVERAGE: In the weeks leading up to the general election, which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 2, The Longboat Observer will profile contested races on both Sarasota and Manatee counties. This week, The Observer profiles the two contested hospital board races, for Northern District seat 2 and Southern District seat 1.

Only two of six hospital board races are contested in the general election. Although it may not be top of mind to many voters, the hospital board races are an important part of Election Day, because the board has a significant say in how taxes are collected. Bad debt (patients not paying bills) is on the rise, and the board may have a debate on whether to raise the tax rate to balance the books.

Northern District Seat 2
Robert Strasser
(Republican, incumbent)
Age: 83
Family: Three children
Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics from Gettysburg College, MBA from University of Chicago
Career: Treasurer at Household International

What unique skills and perspective would you bring to the board?

A finance background and experience on the parent board of Lutheran General Hospital and
Sarasota Memorial Hospital Board for 16 years.

What do you see as the role of the hospital board?

The board must facilitate a team environment that involves all key players — administration, doctors and staff — to meet the intense challenges ahead. Demand on our facilities and services will continue to increase, while federal health-care reform will fundamentally challenge our current financial model.

How do you propose lowering bad debt, which has risen 24% in the past year?
There will be some possible reduction as a result of the new federal health-care reform, but because major portions of that legislation will not take effect for several years, it is too early to determine what the impact and benefits will be. As always, we continue to work diligently to collect all bad debts whenever possible.

Strasser’s opponent, Democrat Thelma Upshaw, did not respond to questions sent to each candidate.


Southern District Seat 1
Darryl Henry
Age: 65
Family: Married with two sons and one grandson
Hometown: Salisbury, Md.
Education: Computer science degree from University of Maryland
Career: retired program director at U.S. Department of Defense

What unique skills and perspective would you bring to the board?
Having spent six months as a patient at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, I have a unique perspective as to the needs of all patients and, in particular, the needs of residents in South County. During my career as a director of programs for the U.S. Department of Defense, I supervised more than 150 military personnel, civilians and contractors and administered an annual budget of more than $43 million. After retiring in 2002, I ran my own company, International Interoperability Initiatives Inc., which provided command-and-control systems, as well as international interface, for government contractors. I have experience in administering large budgets and working with people from a variety of countries and backgrounds.

What do you see as the role of the hospital board?
The role of the Hospital Board should be policy setting, governance and goal setting.

T.M. Hardt
(No party affiliation)
Age: 51
Hometown: Venice
Family: Married with two children
Education: Criminology degree from Florida State University, graduate of Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Career: U.S. Air Force security policeman, lieutenant with U.S. Justice Department and health information management at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Cleveland Clinic

What unique skills and perspective would you bring to the board?
I understand health-information management and the federal HIPAA laws as they apply to the protection of our citizens’ information and rights. I’m a fighter. When I see something wrong, I’ll fight to fix it. I’ll keep South County informed and have an open-door policy.

What do you see as the role of the hospital board?
Keep the hospital financially sound. Provide strict oversight of the CEO and administration. Act as an advocate for the hospital, ensuring that its services are an option for all our citizens. Expand services to South County.

How do you propose lowering bad debt, which has risen 24% in the past year?
Find ways to lower the price of our services. If residents who are already under financial distress were given at least a portion of the discounts insurance companies get, we could expect more payments.


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