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Sarasota Hospital Board Northern District, Seat 2: Victor Rohe

Meet the candidate.

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Explain what you believe to be the fundamental role of government.

On the federal level, the fundamental role of government to protect the God-given rights of the people. On the state level, it is to maintain public order and protect life and property.


Explain what you believe to be the essential role of the hospital board.

The essential role of the hospital board is to oversee the activities of the administration of the hospital. This includes selecting an appropriate CEO and reviewing his performance on a continual basis. 

Also, to set an appropriate millage, the board needs to closely review the financial performance of the hospital. 

These roles need to be done keeping the purpose of the hospital clearly in mind — namely, the health outcomes of the people who come to the hospital for help.


When you are legislating and creating policies, which of the following would take precedence over the other: the individual or the collective “common good”? Why?

The individual. Medicine is treating one patient at a time. “The collective” cannot receive healthcare that will be beneficial. Medical treatment is not a “one size fits all” endeavor.


Why are you running for office?

I am running for the Sarasota Hospital Board at the request of Dr. Stephen Guffanti. I believe the incidents he was involved in at the hospital, in conjunction with numerous other incidents which happened during the same time frame, indicate a negative shift in the culture at SMH. 

There seems to be the prioritization of profit over patient outcomes. 

Interviews with hospital staff, in conjunction with the exodus of talented healthcare professionals from the hospital adds weight to this point of view. 

A more thorough and transparent internal review is called for before reaching a definite conclusion. 

In a broader sense, the interference with the doctor-patient relationship by both insurance companies and the federal government is concerning. 

Does anyone really want his treatment decided by a bureaucrat instead of his doctor?

Also, I believe it is important to ensure that SMH remain a public hospital.


What issues or concerns would you advocate that the hospital board and SMH Healthcare management set as top priorities? Why?

The top priority of the hospital needs to be the quality of the treatment received by patients. This needs to include the best medical treatment practicable and a culture that is compassionate and respects patients and their families.


What needs to change at SMH Healthcare?

The culture. Staff interviews indicate that it was not this way six years ago. What has changed?


What distinguishes you from your opponent that makes you a better candidate?

I have lost track of the number of people who have come up to me during this short campaign and told me they would never voluntarily go to SMH. 

When patients and their families are holding demonstrations in front of the hospital and going on national news, the board should be asking questions. My opponent has let nearly a year go by without seeing that this might be a problem.

My solution is to create transparency and regain the trust of the community. Investigations need to be done in a comprehensive, transparent and well-documented manner. Only when this is completed can the confidence lost in the Sarasota Memorial Hospital system be restored.

I am running as part of a team of four candidates for the purpose of bringing transparency to the board. They bring needed medical experience, and my experience helps me distinguish between an investigation and a cover-up. 

As lieutenant/operations coordinator of a New York City police precinct (which had more homicides than the nation of England), I supervised 39 sergeant/investigators. 

The purpose of the hospital board is to provide oversight. This cannot be done in the absence of information as to what is actually happening. 

This means the people of Sarasota County will have the comfort of knowing that someone is watching the shop at the hospital.


What experience do you have that would convince voters you would be a good steward and monitor of taxpayer dollars?

This past February, the current board voted 8-to-1 to give the current CEO a $300,000 raise. His compensation can reach $2 million a year. Clearly, I’m a better steward than the incumbent who voted for this raise.

Moreover, as a small business owner, I know how to pinch a penny and still expand the mission. I will use my knowledge for the voters benefit by monitoring our expenses.

As a stock broker and financial consultant, I analyzed the financial performance of some of the top New York Stock Exchange firms. This involved, among other methods, reading multiple years of annual reports to deduce the philosophy of the management of those firms and more importantly the likelihood that they would let good financial performance flow through to the shareholders. 

This experience will enable me to understand the quality of the investments being held and to be made by the hospital, as well as the cash flows.


If elected, what will be your guiding principles to determine whether to vote for or against legislation or policies?

My guiding principle will be the development of a culture of caring, respect and service to the patients and their families. Respect starts with self-respect. Hospital employees and contractors need to take pride in the mission they are performing. That pride can only be created by knowing in your heart that you are providing a top-quality service and making the lives of the patients and their families substantially better.


In general, what role should the government play in the economy?

The government should play a constitutional role in the economy. This means not spending money on items that are unauthorized by the constitution, which means they are forbidden to the government by the 10th amendment. The lawful role is spelled out in Article 1 section 8.


Should government subsidize the manufacture of electric cars and/or give tax credits to consumers for buying electric cars? Why? Why not?

The answer is NO. First, it is unconstitutional/unlawful as it is not specifically authorized by the constitution. 

Second, growing research indicates that battery-powered electric cars are more polluting over their life cycle than gasoline powered ones, when you consider the pollution created to make the batteries and the proper disposal of those batteries when expended. 

Third, it represents a transfer payment from the less affluent to the more affluent.


What is your philosophy for taxation? Graduated income tax? Flat income tax? No income tax? Consumption tax? Property tax?

This is an extremely complex question, not meaningfully addressable in this format. As a general rule, taxes should be handled by the states because they have more authority to levy taxes lawfully, and it also moderates the centralization of the effective control of capital in the hands of the federal government and politicians.


A right does not impose an obligation on others. Free speech is a right. There is no right to having a car. In that vein, is health care a right?

Clearly, healthcare per se is not a right. There is no prohibition in the US Constitution against individual states creating such a right in their state constitutions.


If you were king, queen or a tyrannical despot in charge of the country, how, if at all, would you amend the U.S. Constitution? Why?

I absolutely do not want any changes to the US Constitution at this time. The reason is that our problem is not that the Constitution needs to be changed, it is that the U.S. federal government is not obeying the one we have.