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CRYSTAL RIVER — Gov. Rick Scott in 2012 did what three years of lawsuits could not: bring an end to the squabbling at Citrus Memorial hospital.
Scott replaced all but one member of the Citrus County Hospital Board. Gone are the members who led the fight against the Citrus Memorial Health Foundation for control of the county’s public hospital. In their place are appointees who immediately sought to eliminate or stall a mountain of litigation between the two sides that had piled up since 2009.
The only legal issue of significance remaining is a pending District Court of Appeal decision on the 2011 law that gave control of the hospital to the Citrus County Hospital Board, or CCHB.
Both sides are moving toward working together rather than apart. When hospital Chief Executive Officer Ryan Beaty suggested he could move the CCHB into hospital office space at a fair rent, foundation members immediately offered the space for free.
Now the two boards are comparing notes as the hospital moves into one of its most significant phases.
The CCHB is following through on a state law that requires public hospitals to explore the idea of sale or lease. The board has a public hearing at 5 p.m. today in the Citrus County Commission chambers and they are also expected today to choose an accounting firm to conduct an appraisal of the hospital’s assets.
By April 7, the CCHB will decide whether to scrap the idea or move forward with a plan to sell, lease or merge the hospital.
The foundation, which now leases Citrus Memorial Health System from the hospital board, is on a similar track. It recently released the hospital’s strategic plan, which suggests the only way for the hospital to stay open in the long run is through a sale or merger.
Foundation members said they want to start seeking interest from potential buyers or partners. They say that interest in no way implies they have made any decision on the hospital’s future.
“This is exploration only,” foundation board member Sandra Chadwick said in December. “We’re only trying to find out what is available.”
Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* What: CCHB public hearing.
* When: 5 p.m. today.
* Where: County commission chambers, Citrus County Courthouse.
* Why: Public input on future of Citrus Memorial Health System.