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Lee Health board is on the ballot

Lee Memorial Hospital
Lee Memorial Hospital

The Lee Health System Boardconsists of ten directors who are publicly elected — two from each of five districts in Lee County.

It’s an uncommon arrangement, so I asked Therese Everly, who’s a member of the Lee Health Board of Directors, to help explain it to me. Everly is not up for re-election until 2024. She agreed that the arrangement is unusual.

Lee Health is the largest public health system in the U.S. that has an elected board of directors and does not levy tax on the local citizens. We are very unique,” Everly said.

For example, she went on to say, nearby Sarasota Memorial also has an elected board, but they levy taxes.

Florida statute deemed Lee Health a special district in the state of Fla. The board is the governing body over that special district.

I asked Everly what voters should be looking for in their candidates as they elect members of this board.

“First and foremost, they have to be strong stewards of our financial resources, and be focused on meeting the mission and vision of serving everybody in our community,” she said. “We are a safety net, we are a public trust. We’ve been here for 100 years and we need to be here for 100 more years. Our business model becomes more and more complex with the growing numbers of uninsured or those on Medicaid. Of great concern right now is the economic impact of Hurricane Ian on our community and what that is going to do to health systems in our region, especially seeing as we don’t levy tax. How do we continue to be successful as an organization, providing high quality care and being that safety net?”

Board terms are four years and elections are staggered every two years.

Go to vote411.org to enter your address and see exactly what is on your ballot, including Lee Health board of directors candidates in your district.

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