When he wasn’t printing up controversial blue cards to help favored candidates, Democrat political consultant Dan Lewis spent most of his time attacking Broward Health Board Members and officials. Three years ago, REDBROWARD revealed Lewis started the “BRWDHEALTH” blog in 2015. From the start, Lewis attacked Broward Health CEO Nabil El Sanadi and board members over many issues including Sunshine Law violations, transparency and contracts. By 2018, Lewis’ attacks on Broward Health began to wane.

In December 2018, Dan Lewis seemed happy with new Broward Health Board and CEO Gino Santorio. Lewis wrote, “the now six members of Broward Health’s Board of Commissioners, appear to be not only competent – but also independent from any of the county’s aging political infrastructure.” Lewis praised the Board for appointing, “Santorio and by extension his team, to lead the organization in effect wisely choosing stability over another period of transition for Broward Health.  Mr. Santorio leads a young team of unencumbered fearless, energetic, competent folks – almost all of them new to both the organization and to Broward.  This newness is both a strength and a weakness.  This management team will need to operate at a high and independent professional level within both an awareness and an appreciation for the community of Broward.  No small task, but I think they can do it – with our help.”

But it appears Dan Lewis meant “with his help.”

By April 2019, Dan Lewis was no longer a political gadfly recording Broward Health meetings and blogging about issues at the North Broward Hospital District.

The official minutes for the April 3, 2019 Broward Health audit committee meeting list Dan Lewis as the “governance consultant.”

A video of the same meeting shows Dan Lewis in action. When Broward Health Commissioner Christopher Ure announces the public will be allowed to speak, Dan Lewis corrects him. “I’m not the public anymore,” Lewis responds.

When Ure says staff can comment, Lewis replies, “I’m not staff either.”

According to a Broward Health insider, Dan Lewis was given a no-contract consulting position by CEO Gino Santorio. The insider stated board members grew concerned when the former critic was spotted hanging out at Broward Health offices on regular basis.

The insider stated Santorio is paying Lewis $10,000 a month to be an adviser.

Why would Santorio use taxpayer dollars to keep a political consultant around the offices?

HUSH MONEY?

Was Broward Health CEO Gino Santorio aware of Dan Lewis’ many attacks on his predecessors? Last November, Lewis wrote, “Ding, dong. Broward Health’s Wicked Witch is Dead – The Dan Lewis Report” attacking the Broward Health legal counsel. In February 2015, Lewis wrote “Board of Commissioners Rubber Stamp Shady Deals at Meeting – Very Tacky.” Lewis also wrote, “Bumbling Inexperience of Dr. Nabil El Sanadi at Committee Meeting” and “The Best Broward Health CEO contract politics can buy!”

Did new Broward Health CEO Gino Santorio hope Dan Lewis would stop blogging about the woes at the District if he was a paid consultant?

A review of the “BRWDHEALTH” website shows Dan Lewis has not posted about Broward Health since January 2019.

PURSUIT OF BROWARD HEALTH BUSINESS

In December 2014 post entitled “Innovative CEO NASK Forced Out, Politics Wins – We Loose!,” Dan Lewis wrote about the removal of then-Broward Health CEO Frank Nask. In his trademark wordy style, Lewis wrote, “The CEO was forced out after an embarrassing and remarkably unprofessional public circus, insiders on the Board forced a physician contract that was privately opposed by the medical staff, two new political appointments were made to the board by the re-elected governor, and in what appeared to be a slick political maneuver, a new CEO was hired with no previous experience managing a hospital let alone one of the largest public hospital system in the country. ”

In the post, Lewis never disclosed his close working relationship with Frank Nask.

In February 2016, REDBROWARD revealed Dan Lewis teamed up with Frank Nask to stop the construction of a new Nova Southeastern University (NSU) teaching hospital while he pursued a contract with Broward Health as the chairman of Critical Care Physicians (CCP).

An October 2013 email from Lewis to CEO Nask showed negotiations were 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 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 asked 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 did not reveal the identity of the eight members of Lewis’ team.

LEWIS MAKES NASK’S CASE AGAINST NSU

REDBROWARD obtained emails between Lewis and then-CEO Frank Nask discussing HCA plans to build a 100 bed teaching hospital on the NSU campus in Davie. Lewis even acted as an intermediary between Nask and NSU President George Hanbury.

In September 2013, NSU announced the HCA hospital would anchor its academic village, “a Jeffersonian concept that is defined as ‘a community of scholars and student lives working closely together, combining theory and practice’ and serve as the foundation for Broward County’s only comprehensive research and medical center.” NSU stated HCA would own the hospital and no public funds would be used in its construction. George Hanbury said, “But for the development of this hospital, Nova Southeastern University would be unable to complete its full vision for expansion of its research in cancer, diabetes, and other vital academic medical research projects essential for the wellbeing of our community.”

NSU stated construction would not begin until HCA’s Certificate of Need (CON) was approved by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

On October 21, 2013, Nask emailed Lewis HCA’s Certificate of Need application. Nask was forwarding the information he received from Broward Health lobbyist Charlotte Mather. She told Nask, “Here is the main narrative of the application. A CD with the entire application is being fedexed to us as it is 1500 pages.”

The next day, Nask emailed Lewis about the strategy to use in a meeting with George Hanbury. Nask wrote, “On the issue of developing teaching programs and having research dollars come to us to reduce tax dependency then it is pretty much all us…millions of dollars in research, clinical trials etc would be income to the system in addition to the intellectual property to be developed…”

Dan Lewis met with George Hanbury on Wednesday October 23, 2013.

On Friday October 25th, Lewis emailed Hanbury. He thanked Hanbury for meeting him and reviewed “the important points we discussed, and highlight[ed] those upon which we agreed.” Lewis trumpted the relationship between NSU and Broward Health.

Lewis wrote the relationship, “could expand beyond the clinical areas that currently exist. More specifically, the business, law and general college at NSU trains students at all levels to be productive citizens of our community and Broward Health is in constant need of, and can be a valuable resource for these skilled graduates as it fills more than 1,000 vacancies a year.” Lewis continued to dangle the carrot in front of Hanbury. He wrote, “Certainly the establishment of both non clinical internships and fellowships at Broward Health as its more than 7,000 employees go about their routine daily can be accomplished through the collaborative discretion between you and Mr. Nask and a simple agreement.” Lewis stated Hanbury had agreed to work on the internship matter with Nask.

Then, Lewis delivered the stick. Lewis stated he understood Hanbury’s committment to HCA. He shared his view on the drawbacks of the HCA proposal, “as well as the risk it poses for our community health hospitals–notably the Memorial system for patients, and Broward Health for the existing overall relationship.” Lewis made it clear the opposing forces were only concerned about the HCA hospital not NSU, for now.

Lewis wrote, “I made it clear that while I think there is both legitimate and broad opposition to the relationship you have created with HCA, which is not the same as opposition to your vision or NSU at present.”

Lewis told Hanbury the HCA CON would fail. He urged Hanbury to make an alternative deal with Broward Health. He wrote, “We agreed that this is why putting in some time creating an alternate plan with Broward Health in the event your HCA plan fails makes so much sense. I recommended that you immediately work with Mr. nask on a plan B with BH for this reason. You agreed.”

Lewis stated Hanbury had agreed, “to make time in [his] busy schedule meet privately and informally with Mr. Nask on a regular basis to accomplish these goals on a by-weekly, or monthly basis. Probably an ideal time would be at the end of the day, when you are on your way home to east Fort Lauderdale.”

LEWIS AS BROWARD HEALTH ATTACK DOG

Despite the support of many Broward politicians and business leaders such as Marty Kiar, Stacy Ritter, Katie Edwards, Jim Waldman as well as the Mayors of Davie, Dania Beach, Coral Springs and Plantation, the State of Florida rejected the HCA proposal in December 2013.  On December 23, 2013, the Broward Health attacks on Hanbury went public when Dan Lewis penned a letter to the editor in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Lewis took exception with the Sun-Sentinel’s support of the HCA proposal.

As he promised to Hanbury in October, Lewis took direct aim at NSU.

Lewis wrote, Broward Health’s “engine is twice as large as NSU’s with a $4-billion budget, its almost 8,000 employees and close to 35 facilities.” Lewis called Hanbury’s plan a “short-sighted vision.” He scolded Hanbury for being a puppet for HCA.

“President Hanbury should have strengthened NSU’s existing partnership with Broward Health and utilized its existing facilities as a reasonable first step, rather than acting as HCA’s proxy,” Lewis wrote.

Lewis urged NSU leaders to, “question the wisdom of President Hanbury’s execution of his vision. NSU and Broward Health should discuss a Plan B that keeps the vision alive and utilizes available resources for the community’s benefit.”

The Sun-Sentinel letter noted Lewis was a former City of Miramar Commissioner and current member of the Broward County Health Facilities Authority. It made no mention of Lewis’ attempts to win a million dollar contract operating the intensivist program at Broward Health.

LEWIS DOES NOT GIVE UP QUEST FOR BROWARD HEALTH DEAL

Dan Lewis spent most of 2013 and 2014 trying to get the contract for the Broward Health intensivist program. He was not going to let the removal of his ally Frank Nask derail those plans.

Dan Lewis purchased the “BRWDHEALTH” domain name just two months after Dr. Nabil El-Sanadi replaced Frank Nask 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.”

But Dan Lewis soon grew frustrated with El-Sanadi’s position regarding his role at Broward Health. In a BrowardBeat report, Lewis attacked El-Sanadi as “a clueless CEO as a puppet to the political whims of an inexperienced Board Majority.” Lewis spent months attacking El-Sanadi.

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.

DID BROWARD HEALTH CEO WORRY 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.

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?”

Lewis continued his attacks on the Broward Health CEO even after Dr. El-Sanadi committed suicide.

On January 23, 2016, 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.”

NEW BROWARD HEALTH CEO GINO SANTORIO REFUSES TO ANSWER

With Dan Lewis’ storied past with Broward Health CEOs and his pursuit of business with the hospital district, REDBROWARD wanted to know why new CEO Gino Santorio hired Lewis as a “governance consultant.” Is hiring a former elected official and consultant like Lewis really a sign Santorio is “independent from any of the county’s aging political infrastructure” as Lewis wrote?

Multiple calls to Santorio were not returned. But a Broward Health official in the communications did respond. The official promised to respond but nothing had been received by publication.

As usual, Dan Lewis did not respond to a request for a comment.

Published by Tom Lauder

Covering South Florida Politics Since 2010...As Seen On: POLITICO, The Huffington Post, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, WPLG LOCAL 10 (ABC MIAMI), The New Times

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