Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, or Dr. Andy as colleagues called him, has traveled a long and winding road. He has frankly commited an obscene amount of corruption and worse yet, he has done it in all parts of the country. Agwunobi came to Atlanta's South Fulton Hospital as CEO immediately before a JCAHO report that gave the hospital passing but marginal grades. He left that hospital about two years later three months prior to another JCAHO report that failed it, suspended the hospital, and forced a total restructuring. He moved on to Grady Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the world and the largest in America targeting the poor. A year after he arrived the Department of Health and Human Services issued a report that concluded
Grady presents an immediate and serious threat to the health and safety of the
He was removed as CEO of Grady in the aftermath of the report only to wind up as COO at St. Joseph's, a network of hospitals across the country in California. He only managed to stay at St. Joseph's for just over year before he moved back to Florida to serve on the board of WellCare. He only managed to stay at WellCare for six months before cashing out one million dollars worth of stock options and moving on to become the head of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. His first order of business was investigating his most recent employer. Nine months into his tenure his agency was one of several that raided WellCare and the stock plummeted in aftermath. He was eventually investigated for his dubious maneuvers at WellCare and AHCA, and has recently resigned. He didn't resign without a new gig though, as he has already been offered a position as the COO of Providence Health and Services, another network of hospitals in Seattle.
If you just read the introduction, you are probably wondering just how he could have gotten away with so much corruption in so many places, and why he is still able to continue to get a job despite all of this overwhelming evidence of his own incompetence and corruption. The most obscene part is that it took me about thirty minutes of searching Google, the JCAHO website, and around the rest of the internet to determine and verify all of this information. If I am able to easily pin point so much corruption from one individual, why was he able to get away with it for so long in so many places and furthermore why is he continuing on his path? Whenever there is this much corruption, anywhere, it is with the tacit or even active approval of the media around it. In other words, Agwunobi was able to commit all of this corruption because the media around him refused, for whatever reason, to report on what should have been obvious.
A google search of Agwunobi's departure from South Fulton nets only 83 articles. Many of them come years later, and none of them mention the JCAHO report that was filed in the immediate aftermath of his departure. What that means is this. Even though the findings of JCAHO were a matter of public record and could be located with a quick search of their website (the way I found them) no one in the Atlanta area media bothered to investigate this guy, and ask a very simple question...if he ran a fairly small hospital into the ground why is he offered the top job at a very large hospital? Because no one asked no one knew.
To this day, much of the press relating to his time at Grady Hospital is largely positive. Here is one piece published in the immediate aftermath of his departure.
Agwunobi joined Grady on June 1, 2003. Dr. Andy, as he has become affectionately known, has been on the forefront of change for the health system during a very difficult period faced with financial challenges."We have been fortunate to have had the leadership, energy and skills of this remarkably talented individual at the helm of Grady during this sensitive period in the history of the health system," Brown said. "He will leave a legacy to be remembered and admired."
During his short tenure, Agwunobi negotiated the potential merger of Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, launched a public information and transparency campaign to raise awareness and brand the health system, oversaw a portfolio analysis with KPMG to identify financial strengths and weaknesses in all service areas in Grady, created a plan to grow revenues within the profitable service areas to help fund the mission of Grady Health System, created a plan to eliminate services to the uninsured who live outside DeKalb and Fulton counties, served as a catalyst for philanthropic support, improved pharmacy operations and won much recognition and praise.Grady's new interim chief also has a list of accomplishments and awards that are numerous. They include being the past chairman of the board of the Georgia Hospital Association, past regent of the American College of Healthcare Executives, service on the regional policy board of the American Hospital Association, the board of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
Now, what you aren't going to find in this piece is any reference to the scathing HHS report that ultimately cost him his job. The reason for this is even more sinister. This report got almost no media attention in the Atlanta area when it was released. The people didn't know that Agwunobi was responsible as CEO for conditions that lead to this conclusion
the conditions at Grady Hospital pose a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of the patients
That's because the people of Atlanta largely didn't know about the report at all. The HHS report received nothing more than a byline at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. In fact, the AJC never asked for or published the actual contents of the report. The AJC mentioned the conclusions in a by line and never bothered to explain any of the specifics of the report. Agwunobi wasn't held responsible for the contents of this report because the media didn't even bother to report on the report in the first place.
Given that Agwunobi had now managed to successively run two hospitals into the ground it might have made sense for someone to ask how it was that he got a promotion. After all, it couldn't possibly have been performance. Why exactly did St. Joseph's hire given his track record? Now, I have seen the contents of the HHS report and Agwunobi is only one of several people to be held responsible for its scathing conclusion. In fact, his responsibility is less than several people that stayed on at Grady. Yet, he was the only one to leave. If I had to speculate, I would say there was a quid pro quo, however I can only speculate because no one bothered to investigate how it all went down.
In fact, the media portrayed Agwunobi's tenure at Grady Hospital as largely positive. Here is an example.
Again, let's keep in mind that this so called turnaround climaxed with this conclusion...
Orange-based St. Joseph Health System, which runs three of the largest hospitals in the county, has hired a 40-year-old pediatrician and healthcare administrator as its new chief operating officer.
Andrew Agwunobi, who goes by "Dr. Andy," replaces Jeffery FIocken, who left St. Joseph in June. Agwunobi comes to St. Joseph from Grady Health System in Atlanta, where he oversaw a turnaround of hospital and clinic operator as chief executive since 2003.
the conditions at Grady Hospital present a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of the patients.
Neither these conclusions or his contribution to them were ever explored by this article or frankly any of the media in California. Agwunobi was able to arrive at St. Joseph's and run a network of hospitals despite a track record that included running a small hospital into the ground and then a large one. Not only was his record never disected, but frankly, articles like this painted his record as positive.
He moved on the St. Joseph's and stayed largely under the radar there as well. He stayed so under the radar that to this day it is unclear why he stayed for such a short time and what made him leave. Agwunobi moved his family cross country to take a very lucrative position. Why in the world would he leave only about a year later and move his family cross country again. To this day no one knows the answer to that.
His move from St. Joseph's to WellCare and his subsequent departure from there also stayed largely under the radar. In fact, my one and only source for his malfeasance at WellCare is Pharma Fraud. (If anyone else reported on these facts, I can't find them). While I consider the author of Pharma Fraud to be a hero on this story, it is a sad commentary when a blogger is breaking news this big. In fact, while both Pharma Fraud and I were reporting Agwunobi's role in WellCare as well as his sordid history, the Florida media stayed largely silent. Again, a Google search of articles of Dr. Andrew Agwunobi and WellCare largely finds things that Pharma Fraud and I published and anything else has only been published since he re signed. The Florida media stayed nearly silent while this obvious corruption was right in front of them. You won't find any articles from any of their newspapers asking the questions Pharma Fraud and I were asking months ago.
This brings me to the present. Even after all of this has now come to light, the media continues to act with a naked corruption that leaves me scratching my head. Let's take a look at two articles as an example.
Agwunobi's resignation comes as the feds look into WellCare Health Plans. Agwunobi served for six months on the WellCare board and when he went to work for Crist, the Wall Street Journal reported that he cashed in $1 million worth of stock options and netted between $400,000 and $500,000. The CEO of WellCare, Todd Farha, announced his resignation in late January.Here is the other one.
The current AHCA Secretary, pediatrician Andrew Agwunobi, will become regional CEO of Providence Health and Services, a Catholic hospital system in Washington State. AHCA spokesman Doc Kokol said Agwunobi had been unable to unite his family in Tallahassee and tired of commuting to Atlanta each weekend to see his wife, also a physician, and two young daughters. The entire family will be reunited in the move to Washington state, Kokol said. Crist praised Agwunobi’s work during his 13 months at AHCA. “He’s done a tremendous job opening windows to health care for a lot of people ...," Crist said. "I am very grateful for that.”
In other words, it is concurrently a matter of public record that Agwunobi is not only stepping down to spend more time with his family but also then moving that same family cross country to take another job. Maybe, I am the one that is obtuse, but that just makes no sense.
Given all of the corruption that this man has committed that is a matter of public record, you would also expect the Seattle Post Intelligencer and other Seattle media to ask how and why he got hired at all. Of course, those expectation would be giving those organizations too much credit. As of yet, the Intelligencer hasn't published anything about Agwunobi. This will be the fifth high level job for Agwunobi in five years, and the Intelligencer has no interest in investigating how that happened. He is about to be unleashed on the health care system of Washington, after already leaving a trail corruption in Georgia, California, and Florida, and no one in the media there is bothering to do the five minutes of leg work it would take to expose him before he gets there.
If you want to know why Agwunobi has been able to commit so much malfeasance and stay under the radar, there is your answer.