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3 seek spot on Hospital District Board


Three people have applied to Gov. Rick Scott to be appointed to a volunteer position on the Indian River County Hospital District Board to decide how to fund indigent healthcare.

The applicants are Dr. Michaela Scott, Karen Deigl and Joe Saul. They are vying to succeed District Trustee Harris Webber, who resigned unexpectedly in mid-term, citing pressing business responsibilities.

Scott, who lives on South Beach, is an oncologist and hematologist very well known to island residents.  She has treated thousands of Indian River County cancer patients since getting her medical degree in 1967 in Bonn, Germany, then doing a residency in the U.S. 

Deigl, the GoLine administrator and CEO of the Senior Resources Association, was employed as the Hospital District executive director nine years ago.

Saul, a combination lawyer and dentist from New York who retired to this area, began attending Hospital District meetings in 2013, where he was vocal about what he viewed as the mismanagement of Indian River Medical Center. 

The governor will accept applications for three more weeks and will then choose a trustee. The newly appointed trustee will join the most recently appointed trustee, Ann Marie McCrystal, who met with Scott at a coffee shop in Palm Beach about a month ago, after which he named her to the position vacated by Jim Seaton in July.  

McCrystal, who is best known for founding the Visiting Nurses Association in the county in 1975, has served on numerous boards and committees associated with healthcare over the past four decades and is known for her dedication to improving healthcare in the county.

With the selection of Webber’s replacement, three of the seven District Trustees will be Scott appointments. Four – Chairman Tom Spackman, MD, Michael Weiss, Gene Feinour and Marybeth Cunningham – were elected by the residents of Indian River County; one – Alan Jones – was appointed to the position vacated by the late Trevor Smith, and then remained on the board when no one ran against him. 

Challenges currently facing the trustees include:

• Deciding whether or not to set up a bonus scale for additional funding of the hospital’s Partners childbirth program and deciding what the hospital must achieve in areas like patient satisfaction, keeping the numbers of Caesarians down and following pregnant women from the first trimester on, in order to receive a bonus.

• Deciding whether to hire a specialist MD for the Partners program to treat high-risk pregnant women, who make up 85 percent of the patients, rather than refer them to specialists out of the county, which often requires transportation. The hiring would add approximately $175,000 to the tax money the District gives to Partners.

• Becoming better informed about strategic planning at the hospital, which involves learning more about operational issues, through regular meetings with hospital leaders. 

The replacement for Webber is expected to join the six Hospital District trustees by Nov. 1.