Broward Health fires legal chief amid leadership turmoil

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

The board of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Broward Health fired its general counsel amid a slew of leadership problems at the system in recent years, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Here are five things to know:

1. A proposal introduced during the board's meeting Oct. 31 called for terminating Lynn Barrett as the five-hospital system's general counsel. The board voted 4-2 to oust Ms. Barrett from her position. The vote came after several physicians complained about Ms. Barrett's failure to get contracts through — a move that was costing the system essential physicians, the report states.

2. Broward Health Board Chairman Andrew Klein, who introduced the proposal, said Ms. Barrett bears "significant responsibility" for the chaos surrounding the system's executive leadership. The system has had four CEOs in two years and has seen five leaders indicted during Ms. Barrett's tenure. Mr. Klein also claimed Ms. Barrett exercises too much power and has spent millions on outside legal counsel with little evidence of financial controls, according to a second report by the Sun Sentinel.

3. During one of several committee meetings that took place Oct. 30, Ms. Barrett brought in outside counsel to make the case against firing her. The lawyer's presentation centered on an investigation organized by Ms. Barrett about the possible improper hiring of consultants by Broward Health executives. The counsel also cautioned the board about interfering with Ms. Barrett's investigation, which is being handled by a Washington, D.C.-based law firm.

"I think the critical thing is understanding here that [Broward Health is] being watched, as we sit here today, by OIG. And your actions over the next several days in terms of the way you deal with your senior management that has responsibilities for these areas will send messages about what you think," Ms. Barrett's legal counsel said Oct. 30. "I think if the message is we want the investigation to go forward, but we're going to terminate the employee who started it, that's not a great message."

4. A group called the Broward County African American Pastors Alliance also planned a news conference to take place before the board meeting Oct. 31, calling on the board to fire Ms. Barrett, who they allege created "divisive and toxic working conditions" by helping to remove Pauline Grant from her role as the health system's interim CEO in 2016.

5. After the board's decision, Beverly Capasso spoke about the "pervasive culture of fear" Ms. Barrett helped create. Ms. Capasso abruptly announced he resignation from the health system in October.

"This is unfair, this is intimidation, this is harassment," Ms. Capasso said. "The extraordinary amounts paid to outside law firms are not available to serve the people of Broward County."

Editor's note: This article was updated on Oct. 31 at 12:45 p.m. to include additional information.

To access the full report, click here.

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