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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pam Stephenson"s Grady Boondoggle

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the latest on this developing scandal.

Several Georgia lawmakers and Grady hospital officials expressed outrage Wednesday over a two-year, $1.2 million contract awarded interim hospital CEO Pam Stephenson, with some calling for a state investigation and her resignation from hospital leadership posts.

Stephenson's contract was sealed shortly before the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority was to hand over control of the hospital to a new nonprofit corporation. On Monday, the corporation announced four finalists for the CEO position, and Stephenson was not among them.

Officials blasted the contract, characterizing it as a deal deliberately crafted away from public scrutiny. Some attacked what they termed the contract's lucrative offerings, including a $600,000 annual base salary and a golden parachute that could earn Stephenson a separate check for $750,000 when she is replaced.

In February, I pointed out that Stephenson was accumulating far too much power into her own single hands.. At the time, the board of Grady Hospital had just fired Otis Story Jr. This firing was orchestrated by the board at Grady Hospital headed up by none other than Pam Stephenson. Sources have told me that the reason for Story's firing was because he wouldn't go along with the corruption at Grady Hospital. As head of the board at the time of his firing, Stephenson would have been a main point person in deciding on his firing. By then installing herself as the new interim CEO, it ought to have raised serious questions about how kosher the whole thing was. .

Besides simultaneously being the CEO of Grady and head of the board, Stephenson is also a State Senator. There appears to be all sorts of frothing at the mouths of her State Senator colleagues about the lucrative deal she landed for herself. Of course, no one seemed to mind when she manipulated herself into a postion of near absolute power so that such a deal would be possible. It seems the State's pol's wait only until corruption has occurred until being indignant. It appears the State Senate apparatus gets all worked up when corruption is actually committed, but says nothing when the roots of that corruption are set in place.

So, State Senators are calling for an investigation, however their righteous indignation is rather half hearted in my opinion. Grady has been corrupted for decades. The whole thing has gone under the nose of the state legislature. The biggest corruption committed at the hospital was committed by Charles Walker, then himself a State Senator. All of them have known for months that their State Senate colleague was simultaneously running the board and CEO of the hospital and no one said anything until this clearly corrupt confluence of power was actually used to corrupt.

Keep in mind that Stephenson has absolutely zero healthcare experience and little executive experience. Thus, she got her Grady power through connections not qualifications.

So how did she use all that power? According to this article, she used to give herself an annual salary of $600,000 per yeara and a golden parachute to the tune of $750,000. Keep in mind that Grady Hospital was in such dire financial straits that it needed to be bailed out with a private donation of roughly $200 million from the Woodruff Foundation. The Woodruff Foundation is of course closely tied to Emory University, the single biggest employer at Grady Hospital. So closely tied is Woodruff that the medical school at Emory University is named the Woodruff Health Sciences Center.

Now, given that Grady was in such dire financial straits that it needed a nine digit bailout, is it really financially wise to give such a massive contract to someone that orchestrated her position? Well, of course, financial frugality has never been the order of the day at Grady Hospital. Back in 2002, when Grady was also facing a financial crisis, they began building a multi million dollar addition. The recipient of that contract was RL Brown and Associates. RL Brown and Associates was owned by Robert Brown, then head of the board at Grady.

In other words, what is going on now is the same corruption that put Grady into a position of being in need of receiving the massive bailout they received. The backstory on the bailout likely also has a nefarious undercurrent. Why is a group so tied to Emory University (which provides more than 90% of the staff at Grady Hospital) giving so much money to the hospital that employs it? Of course, the new private board, a creation of the Grady Task Force, was supposed to be able prevent this sort of corruption. Of course, a close examination of the make up of the new private board finds several with ties to Woodruff like Steve Correl.

In other words, the corruption continues in full at Grady Hospital and no one seems to be doing much about it. Here is an updated summary of the entire scandal. Here are my recommendations for fixing Grady Hospital.


tatiana johnson said...

Wow, this is my first Aunt, and she worked hard at his job and deserves a reward, PERIOD!

Tatiana Johnson

Anonymous said...

Your FIRST aunt (what ever that means) is a FIRST class crook and deserves nothing. She should be in jail for fraud and theft by deception for makeing the Grady Board think she had a law degree.