Broward’s busy bees were buzzing last week after political consultant Dan Lewis offered some ill-timed comments regarding the death of Broward Health CEO Nabil Sanadi. On Saturday, January 23, Dr. El Sanadi killed himself in the lobby of his Lauderdale-By-The-Sea condominium. Just hours after his death, Lewis spoke ill of the dead.
“[El-Sanadi] has decimated professional and competent senior staff and put in place people that will give him the answers he wanted,” Lewis told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “While I’m sensitive and sorry for people’s loss, the damage he has done to Broward Health is almost incalcuable.”
Former Sun-Sentinel columnist John DeGroot did not appreciate Lewis’ comments. During last week’s Broward Health board meeting, DeGroot threw a berry pie at Dan Lewis. According to BrowardBeat.com, DeGroot told Lewis, “You are a disgrace. He wasn’t even cold yet.”
However, the comments following El-Sanadi’s death were the latest in Lewis’ year long campaign against the late doctor.
BLOG ATTACKED LATE BROWARD HEALTH CEO FROM START
Records show Dan Lewis purchased the BRWDHEALTH.com domain in February 2015. In March 2015, BrowardBeat.com confirmed Lewis was behind the blog. “The website is run by political strategist Dan Lewis. When Lewis takes his time and effort to establish a website, I pay attention. After roughly three decades in Broward politics building a wide range of political, business and community contacts, he is generally on target,” wrote Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.
Lewis purchased the domain name just two months after El-Sanadi was appointed as CEO at Broward Health. On March 17, 2015 Lewis explained his motivation for starting the blog. He claimed the poor treatment his daughter received in 2011 forced him into action. Lewis wrote, “[I]nstead of suing everyone for malpractice, which we would likely win – my daughter and I decided that instead, we would commit to try to fix the problem so future families would not have to endure what we had to at the hands of Broward Health.”
In this same article, Lewis took shots at El-Sanadi even though he was not Broward Health CEO when his daughter received treatment. He called El-Sanadi “a clueless CEO as a puppet to the political whims of an inexperienced Board Majority.” Lewis would spend months attacking El-Sanadi.
LEWIS STUNG BY CANCELLED MEETING WITH CEO
In April 2015, Lewis wrote about a cancelled meeting with El-Sanadi. Lewis said before El-Sanadi officially became CEO, he had promised to meet with him. “This promise was the result of four years of interaction between current and previous board members and senior staff on a number of initiatives with which there was both broad and strong support,” Lewis wrote. “I was worried that, with the transition to a new CEO, some – if not all, the momentum for these initiatives would be lost.” Lewis said he wanted to “take the measure” of El-Sanadi and “look him in the eye.”
While El-Sanadi was under no obligation to meet with him, Lewis wrote, “I do have a 30+ year history of civic activism and governmental public policy advisory experience, and I am a current member of the Broward County Health Planning Council. And they promised.”
According to his blog post, on January 29, 2015, Lewis emailed El-Sanadi to set up the meeting. El-Sanadi’s assistant replied, asking for the reason for the meeting. Lewis gave a long-winded response:
For reasons we can discuss, I have made a commitment to help make Broward Health the finest public health care system in the country. Broward Health is a system with pockets of excellence and layers of incompetence. To effectively meet the challenges of the organization, it must find bold and inventive strategies to grow its pockets of excellence and melt away its layers of incompetence. These strategies must be both internal and external to the organization and administrative and political in their nature.
My purpose, and intent in meeting with you is to afford both of us the opportunity to get to know each other in a frank and useful exchange of ideas. This exchange will help me understand the extent with which I will be able to work with him to fulfill what I hope is a shared commitment for excellence.
On his agenda sent to El-Sanadi, Lewis listed the “Intensivist program” first.
LATE CEO CONCERNED ABOUT APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY?
El-Sanadi responded to Lewis’ emailed agenda with a telephone message. Lewis posted the entire voicemail message. He wrote, “It is said that character is what you do when you think no one is looking. After I sent my requested informal agenda to Dr. Sanadi, I received a remarkable phone message.”
El-Sanadi told Lewis he was calling on a speakerphone so a “couple of people wanting to take notes” could listen. He said “we need to discuss [the agenda].” El-Sanadi said, “this is very serious stuff that you bring up…and then what you perceive as a course of business that we need to take….As determining policy, that is the role of the board members and myself. So we need to talk about details and your actual role in this whole process.”
El-Sanadi would later cancel a conference with Lewis. In February 2015, Lewis received a letter from Broward Health lawyers. The letter stated, “Broward Health has a Board-approved policy governing lobbying and lobbyist activities. This policy…prohibits lobbyists from contacting Board members and employees directly on matters that are the subject of contract negotiations. The policy also restricts certain communications between Board members and lobbyists unless such communications are initiated by a Board member.”
Lewis called the lawyer’s letter “remarkable,” “infuriating,” “sad” and “disappointing.” He even took the letter as a threat and sign of disrespect. Lewis told the Board chairman, “Further, in what can only be taken as a threat on the basis of an intentional misinterpretation that I am a lobbyist, or that the Boards internal lobbying policy in anyway applies to me or my requested meeting. The comment ‘We recognize that the policy may not apply to your current request’ is akin to the admonition ‘with no disrespect’ immediately followed by disrespect. It is what it is, it says what it says.”
As to his motives, Lewis wrote, “This purpose emanated from a commitment I made after nearly losing my daughter to a rare medical syndrome and the systemic incompetence of both the emergency and ICU services at Broward Health. Instead of litigating these failures, I committed to use my abilities and resources to be part of an effort to help the system leave its colorful past behind and improve the quality of health services it provides to the public it serves.”
At the beginning of his blog post, Lewis claims the Broward Health chairman was part of a conspiracy. He wrote, “you learned that there were a number of initiatives underway to improve Broward Health’s services at the time David DiPietro, the Board Chair, seemingly orchestrated the ouster of Frank Nask followed by DiPietro’s apparently predetermined CEO choice…Dr. Nabil El Sanadi.”
One of the initiatives underway was the first item on Lewis’ agenda, the intensivist program.
CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIANS
REDBROWARD obtained emails showing Lewis’ interest in the intensivist program started in 2012. In August 2012, Lewis urged Broward Health to submit to a public “request for proposal (RFP)” process for the intensivist program. In an emailed copied to then CEO Frank Nask, Lewis wrote, “I must admit that I am very concerned that you appear to have discarded the notion of a public process or [RFP] for your intensivist program in favor of another private sweetheart physician contract. I cannot emphasize how strongly I oppose this course of action.”
In October 2012, Lewis emails Nask to confirm an RFP for the intensivist program will be issued.
The RFP was issued in January 2013.
In June 2013, Lewis emails Nask to advise him that Critical Care Physicians (CCP), LLC is filing an appeal of the RFP process. One month later, Lewis emails Nask a “draft agreement” between CCP and Broward Health. Lewis’ language appears to suggest he is part of CCP.
“You should note that exhibit A clearly puts you or your designee in complete charge of the level and scope of service,” Lewis wrote. “Our part in that discussion is to advise you on all aspects of what the intensivist program can and should be for [Broward Health].
Lewis explains, “Finally, I would remind you that going into the ‘business plan’ evaluation phase, we were clinically ranked number 2 by the committee as a whole and number 1 by your administrative staff.” he ends with, “We stand ready at any time to discuss and resolve any questions or concerns you may have regarding the draft….”
An October 2013 email from Lewis to CEO Frank Nask reveals negotiations are still ongoing. Regarding questions over fees, Lewis wrote, “We know that what we do here makes a difference to [Broward Health], our community, and our families and we do not take a back seat to any competitor for our clinical offering or for our understanding of [Broward Health]. Nor do we yield the ground financially. Our deal is the best one for [Broward Health].” Lewis claimed had “our intensivist program been in place,” his daughter’s care would have been better.
He wrote, “I simply can’t stress this enough, we are different from the rest because Broward Health is our hospital and we share and support your vision that Broward Health can be the finest public hospital system in the country….”
Lewis asks Nask to “meet the entire 8 member team that has been working for over 2 years to develop our intensivist program specifically for Broward Health.” He said, ” I need you to know that it is not just me with a passion for what is possible but that I stand on the shoulders [of] a remarkable group of highly motivated, highly professional and incredibly competent indiviudals.” The email does not reveal the identity of the eight members of Lewis’ team.
A June 9, 2014 from Lewis to Nask signals the conclusion of negotiations. Lewis wrote, “On behalf of Critical Care Physicians, LLC and further to our June 2nd conversation and your agreement, I am delighted to confirm we are fully prepared to commence and conclude contract discussions this week.” For the first time, Lewis signs the email as “Chairman, Critical Care Physicians, LLC.”
As Chairman of CCP, Lewis had every right to be delighted. According to the agreement obtained by REDBROWARD, CCP stood to gain millions of dollars. For work less than twelve hours, CCP would receive $284.71 per hour. For a twelve hour shift, CCP would get $3,416. 50 an hour. If a shift was twenty-four hours, CCP’s rate goes to $6,833 per hour. Also, Broward Health would pay CCP $1.5 million dollars for expertise, time and mobilization expenses related to the recruitment, training and contracting of personnel.
WAS El-SANADI REALLY PARANOID?
Despite stating he was the chairman of a group seeking millions of taxpayer dollars from Broward Health, Dan Lewis continued to paint El-Sanadi as the bad guy. In an April 27 blog post, Lewis claimed El-Sanadi’s refusal to meet with him was “a remarkable paranoia of organizational transparency in an email chain that is a troubling indicator of how Dr. El Sanadi ostensibly sees his new public responsibilities.” Lewis wrote the lawyer’s letter was “remarkable paranoia of organizational transparency in an email chain that is a troubling indicator of how Dr. El Sanadi ostensibly sees his new public responsibilities.”
Was El-Sanadi paranoid to think a private meeting with the chairman of Critical Care Physicians, LLC, a group seeking millions of dollars to run a program at Broward Health, might look bad?
Was El-Sanadi paranoid to seek the advice of legal counsel to help guide him in all matters related to meeting Dan Lewis, the Chairman of Critical Care Physicians, LLC?
Why did Lewis, with years of experience in local judicial campaigns, describe a letter from a lawyer as a “veiled threat?”
Why did Lewis’ blog leave out crucial information regarding his dealings with Broward Health?
Dan Lewis did not respond to a request for comment.