Hospital exec Edward Alexander responds to article Official: Phoebe monopoly driving up Southwest Georgia health care costs

Via the Albany Herald »

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — An article that appeared in Monday’s edition of The Albany Herald included information about G. Edward Alexander’s career and the legal issues and claims that have followed him throughout that career.

In addition to serving currently as Founder/CEO/President of Surgical Development Partners, Alexander is listed as the President/CEO of LCMC OPCO LLC, the group that is expected to manage the proposed Lee County Medical Center if the $124 million, 60-bed facility receives state approval and is built.

The Herald was unsuccessful in reaching Alexander over the weekend with contact information the newspaper had been given by another party. Alexander, who said he had been unaware of attempts to reach him, responded to the article Monday.

“First,” Alexander said in an email, “in my more than 30 years in the health care industry and involvement in dozens and dozens of projects, I have never experienced anything quite like the situation in Albany, and with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital specifically.

“I was repeatedly warned about the viciousness with which Phoebe would protect its monopoly, despite being barred for five years by the FTC from either directly or indirectly making any negative comments or objecting to any attempt to bring a choice for quality health care to the region. I now see I should have taken those warnings to heart. It’s clear now that Phoebe and its surrogates will use any means necessary to protect its monopoly, including grossly misrepresenting the facts.”

Regarding specific issues in the article, Alexander said:

Medaphis: “It is true that I left Medaphis before the 1996 lawsuit referenced in the article. In fact, I left the company a full two years before the lawsuit was filed. I was never named in the lawsuit, and no one involved in the matter ever reached out to me regarding anything in that suit. Specifically, I was never deposed regarding the suit, and I don’t know anything about the suit because it occurred so long after my time there.”

Ortholink: “I do not recall Ortholink ever being sued while I was involved in that organization. My involvement with Ortholink ended in early 2001. It is my understanding that after I left the company there were two false-claims actions filed against Ortholink, both of which ended with the claims being terminated. Ortholink was sold to a publicly traded company in Dallas, now more than 15 years ago.”

Surgical Alliance Corp.: “Much like in Albany, there was some opposition to our project in Columbus, Ohio, from existing hospital competition in 2002. The competing hospital system spokesperson quoted in the Herald article was using the same kind of scare tactics that are being used by Phoebe and its surrogates in Albany. My experience is that deeply entrenched hospitals do not like competition and more choice in health care and will do almost anything to protect their market share. Scare tactics are normal, but what is happening in Albany takes things to a level I have not seen before. I believe choice in health care is good.”

Surgical Development Partners – Lake Travis Specialty Hospital: “This lawsuit was found to be frivolous and was dismissed by the Texas court system.”

Lakeway Regional: “The Herald article raises two issues about Lakeway, both of which are misrepresented at best. First, the implications regarding the HUD loan are mischaracterized. The HUD loan was ultimately purchased by an independent investor group, and the hospital was recapitalized. No taxpayer dollars were lost. Ultimately, Lakeway overcame its initial challenges and became part of one of the best health systems in our nation, Baylor Scott & White.

“The second issue the article raises – nursing care and lab results and staffing – are somewhat similar, though less serious in my opinion, to the kind of quality issues Phoebe had with CMS last year. Phoebe fixed its issues, and so did Lakeway. It’s also important to note that my company’s role was as a 10 percent investor in the hospital and an advisor to the board. We were not involved in the day-to-day operations of the hospital.”

North Cypress Houston: “North Cypress Medical Center is arguably one of the most successful physician-owned hospitals ever opened in the United States. It was so successful in fact, that it expanded the number of beds available to patients in its first year of operation. My company was bought out of that project in 2007-08, nearly 10 years before Aetna’s lawsuit. Moreover, it is my understanding that Aetna’s lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.”

Walnut Hill – Dr. Das lawsuit and HUD Loan: “The pending lawsuit with Dr. Das is a contractual matter. I have great respect for Dr. Das, and I am confident that it will ultimately be resolved. Until then, I can’t comment further because of the status of the lawsuit.

“There was no HUD loan in Walnut Hill. What happened with Walnut Hill is unfortunate, but it is simply a misrepresentation to draw comparisons to Lee County, perhaps most of all because of Walnut Hill’s geographic location in the ultra-competitive Dallas market. The only monies lost were those of private investors.”

Regarding Lee County, Alexander said he believes giving those in the area a choice will benefit the health care landscape.

“There is no local choice in health care,” he said. “The cost of care is astronomically high. Most disturbing to me, though, is the number of patients who have expressed serious concerns, and in fact negative personal experiences, about the quality of hospital care available to them. The health care monopoly is not good for the people in Southwest Georgia.

“Working to bring Lee County Medical Center to life is about increasing access to quality care at an affordable cost. Ending the Phoebe monopoly is the right thing for the future of health care in the region, and I am proud to be part of the effort to bring a health care choice to the people of the area.”