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TGH vows to release records
By WAYNE WASHINGTON
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 4, 2000
TAMPA -- Tampa General Hospital officials reaffirmed their commitment Friday to turning over financial records to a task force of business leaders offering to help the struggling hospital.
With that promise in hand -- and on tape -- the task force decided to compile a list of questions from local legislators and submit them to the hospital, said Bill McBride, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and leader of the task force.
Those questions will attempt to more accurately assess the financial condition of the hospital, which has lost $29-million since it changed from a public hospital to a private one in 1997.
Hillsborough County commissioners and state legislators have been reluctant to provide taxpayer money to the hospital as long as Tampa General officials refused to share financial information with them. Officials at the hospital and members of the board that oversees Tampa General, meanwhile, have said taxpayer support is critical to easing the financial crunch.
The board, however, has been reluctant to turn over financial records because its competitors might get an inside look at its problems and plans. Those worries were heightened when the task force chose John Biebel as its consultant in examining TGH records. Biebel is the former chief executive officer at St. Joseph's/St. Anthony's Health System.
The board initially refused to release financial documents, prompting the task force to end its efforts to help. The board changed its mind, however, and task force members did, too.
On Friday, the sides met and jump-started their efforts to help.
Several of those who attended the meeting said it was productive.
Biebel has decided against acting as the task force's consultant, and McBride said another will be chosen by Wednesday. By then, legislators will have had a chance to submit all of the questions they have about the hospital's finances and plans, McBride said.
H.L. Culbreath, chairman of the hospital board, said financial records needed to answer those questions will be ready.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.