Transparency, oversight needed at JHS
Voters have approved $830M bond — new committee will review how dollars are spent
D. Kevin McNeir | 11/21/2013, 9 a.m.
Voters recently approved an $830M bond request that will raise their property taxes and will allow Jackson Health System to proceed with a list of long-term needs that include upgrades and new equipment for Miami-Dade County’s public hospital network. Plans laid out by hospital officials call for $477M in construction projects, including a new
rehabilitation hospital and 12 urgent-care centers throughout the County. Another $350M is slotted for new equipment with $130M set aside for computers and software that will vastly improve access to Jackson’s medical records, physicians’ reports and clinical information. But County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who says she supported the bond from the start, has spearheaded a move for an independent panel that will oversee how the funds are spent.
“I just met with Carlos Migoya [Jackson’s chief executive] and Darryl Sharpton [chairman of the board] as well as with the Mayor’s office to show them the draft of the legislation I’m proposing,” Edmonson said. “An oversight committee just adds checks and balances to oversee how the funds are spent. We already have a reputable board at Jackson but this is the people’s money and they deserve to have a say in how their money is being spent. The committee would consist of people with specific skills who can look at the paperwork and tell if things are moving in the right direction. One thing this oversight committee will not be is a group of politicians. It will consist of professionals with particular skills.”
County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who also supported the bond, agrees that additional oversight would be beneficial.
“I presented an item six to nine months before the bond issue went before the voters and co-sponsored the item with Commissioner Edmonson in order to get the referendum on the ballot,” Jordan said. “Now with this oversight committee, it’s important that we keep politics out of it. We need to maintain the support of the public and to do that we must make sure that the dollars are used the way Jackson has promised. I think our citizens will feel more comfortable — transparency is important particularly given the amount of money that has been approved. The committee will give us another set of needed, competent eyes. As for how upgrades unfold, the rehabilitation hospital is number one on my list because it’s in terrible physical condition despite Jackson still being able to provide excellent service.”
Jackson official agrees with new committee’s goals
Sharpton says he has no objections to there being an oversight committee.
“We already have the county commission, the public health trust and our board but we have no problem with an additional oversight committee as Commissioner Edmonson has proposed,” Sharpton said. “The same kind of thing was proposed and approved when bonds were issued in 2009 — then, like now, to make sure the money is used as it was intended. The committee isn’t actually approving how the money will be spent. They will be reviewing our progress and making sure we follow the correct procedures. It will be a board of professionals with knowledge about health care, accountants, engineers and others qualified to give their input.”