Hospital experts consider Indian River Medical Center’s structure the most likely to fail; partly because of the overlapping authority of its three boards.
The two boards overseeing the Indian River Medical Center will conduct somewhat separate yet overlapping processes to find a health system to take over the financially struggling county-owned hospital, a legal consultant said Wednesday.
The Indian River County Hospital District board of trustees and the Indian River Medical Center board of directors are expected to independently choose the same health system to take over the hospital, the consultant said.
“In my experience, I think that one partner will rise above the rest,” William Boyles, of the Gray Robinson law firm, told the Hospital District board.
The goal is to close a deal to join a health system by the end of 2018, Boyles said. The Juniper Advisory investment banking firm, which the Indian River Medical Center retained, will start soliciting offers from health systems in October.
It will require hundreds of thousands of dollars in professional fees and ultimately an agreement between two boards that have been at odds in the past.
The Hospital District owns the hospital and leases it to Indian River Medical Center Inc., a private nonprofit corporation that operates the facilities and two for-profit businesses. The seven Hospital District trustees are elected by the public, while the 17 IRMC directors are appointed.
The Hospital District trustees allocated $1 million in tax money in their fiscal 2018 budget to pay for professional fees for the search for a health system to join. The trustees are set to vote on the proposed $14.8 million budget during a public hearing starting 5:01 p.m. Thursday at the Indian River County Commission chamber.
Boyles is charging the district $344 per hour for his legal services, district records show. The firm’s rates range from $140 to $750 an hour for attorneys and $75 to $175 for paralegals.
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The Hospital District trustees decided Wednesday to hire the Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock communications firm to deal with the public and the news media. Jarrard’s rates range from $450 an hour for the CEO to $50 an hour for staff support.
Jarrard also is working for Indian River Medical Center and charging the same rates, records show.
Boyles said he favored the two boards using the same communications firm because “it would be better for the public if you have a unified voice.”
But the two boards have different legal representation for the deal. Boyles and Gray Robinson represent the Hospital District.
Indian River Medical Center has retained Louis Glaser of the Katten Muchen Rosenman law firm for the deal, said Jennifer Peshke, the Hospital District’s attorney. The Carlton Fields law firm also is working on the deal for IRMC.
Indian River Medical Center’s spokesman did not respond to a request Wednesday for its agreements with the law firms and Juniper Advisory.
The hospital retained Juniper to maintain the confidentiality of a variety of records that would have been subject to public disclosure if the consultant was working for the Hospital District.
Juniper charges a $20,000 per month retainer fee, plus 1.15 percent of the aggregate consideration of the deal, Barry Sagraves told the Hospital District trustees at a July 17 meeting. That includes the amount paid to the Hospital District, plus the liabilities the partner assumes, plus the partner’s capital commitment.
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Indian River Medical Center (Photo: GEORGE ANDREASSI/TCPALM)