The Greenville Healthcare System is continuing to move ahead with plans to implement the restructuring of their system of governance as the Greenville County Legislative Delegation bickers about whether they have authority to give directions to the massive health care conglomerate that was previously considered property of Greenville County taxpayers.

The old Greenville General Hospital was owned by the city of Greenville. It was demolished and the county taxpayers spent $82 million to help build Greenville Memorial and satellite hospitals in Greer, Travelers Rest and Simpsonville. Greenville Memorial plus is now called the Greenville Healthcare System, as it builds elaborate facilities and acquires medical practices across Upstate South Carolina.

A board of directors that is appointed by the Greenville County Legislative Delegation governs the system. It is understood that GHS provides a list of candidates from which the Delegation may select and appoint board members.

The Delegation learned recently that a majority of the board they had appointed to oversee the Greenville Healthcare System were supporting a reorganization plan to, in effect, remove legislative oversight from the Healthcare system without informing the lawmakers who appointed them of their actions or intentions.

The reorganization plan would reportedly create an autonomous self-perpetuating board of directors that would be theoretically overseen by the current board that would have no authority to direct them or the Healthcare system to do anything.

GHS CEO Michael Riordan, who was hired and brought here from Chicago by the current board of directors, appears to be bullying the board that is supposed to be directing him. He is also outmaneuvering the lawmakers, who discovered after they began asking questions that Riordan has gone to the State Supreme Court seeking a ruling that would in effect approve his reorganization plan.

By procrastinating and delaying action, the Greenville County Legislative Delegation is allowing Riordan to proceed with his plans and possible implementation beyond the “point of no return.” At that point all will agree that it will be too costly and disruptive to discontinue or reverse the reorganization.

The tactics being used by the Healthcare Board are reminiscent of the scheme created and implemented by the Greenville County School Board and the Chamber of Commerce a decade ago.

The School Board along with the Chamber of Commerce developed a plan to demolish and rebuild most of the schools in Greenville County. Implementation would cost a billion dollars. The District had already reached its constitutional debt limit.

A plan circumvented the South Carolina Constitution and the legal debt limit. The Greenville County School Board created a “Dummy corporation” and as I recall, transferred the title for all the county school property to the corporation they created and registered in Delaware. The school property was used as collateral to support the billion dollars borrowed from New York bankers.

The School Board Chairman and Chamber official involved in getting the plan approved, formed a corporation and were given a $30 million plus contract to manage the construction. Halfway through the construction, it was discovered that no one was managing the construction except the contractors. The corporation was paid several million dollars more to do the job the board thought they had hired them to do previously.

The unethical practice was spreading across the state.

The Legislature eventually passed a law making this method of circumventing the state Constitution illegal. However, it was determined that the “Greenville Plan” of “creative financing” had progressed too far to stop or reverse.

No one cared about alleged fraud and corruption, although it was reported in this publication.

 

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Mike Scruggs