Paul McKnight and Richard Cunningham: A look back at AGH


Published: Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:38 p.m.

Much has been written and spoken about the current AGH situation. Letters to the editor have suggested multiple solutions, including involvement by North Florida Regional Medical Center and Hospital Corporation of America.

While historically documented facts will probably not alter or effect the current situation, we would like to reflect on these facts for those citizens who were not in the community and are therefore unaware of events in 1978; and for those who choose to ignore or forget such events.

These facts are documented by the front page headlines in the Gainesville Sun dated Wednesday, January 11, 1978, and minutes from the Alachua County Commission meetings of January 10, 1978 and January 24, 1978 the body representing the taxpayers of Alachua County, who owned AGH.

Representatives from Hospital Corporation of America appeared before the Alachua County Commission on January 10, 1978, and made an offer of $21 million to buy AGH. This was enough to pay off all AGH debts and leave the county with $7 million or $8 million in cash.

Further, HCA was willing to contract with the county to keep AGH as a full service hospital, including an active emergency room. All employees would continue, and care for all indigent patients would be provided with the same financial arrangements that the county had with AGH.

An alternative proposal was a lease of $1 million a year with the same stipulations, plus the option of the county opting out of the lease after five years.

This was a bonafide and serious offer!

The Board of Trustees at AGH and Ed Peddie, then administrator at AGH, came up with a figure of $40 million value as a counter worth, which was obviously very excessive.

The Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Trustees at AGH then abruptly chose to sell AGH to Peddie and his group for $1!

Later, the sale of AGH to Shands Hospital for a large sum occurred.

In 1999, Joe Little, on behalf of Dr. Alan Delaney and the taxpayers of Alachua County, sued the Board of County Commissioners, Alachua General Hospital, Inc. Santa Fe Healthcare, and Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics for the purpose of returning some of the lost equity to the taxpayers of Alachua County. They did not get a favorable ruling!

We earnestly hope that the current situation can be resolved for better medical care for all the citizens!

Paul McKnight,

Founding administrator,

North Florida Regional Hospital,

Alachua

Richard W. Cunningham, M.D.,

Founding chairman of the Board of Trustees,

North Florida Regional Hospital,

Gainesville

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