The Gainesville Sun on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, raised an issue the daily newspaper would like everyone to believe has nothing to do with the local election. Political candidates seeking to be elected Mayor in Gainesville, or district commissioner, may not see any relevance to this issue.
But in fact, what was covered up in 2006 to the present, was the use of the events described here, to end the more than 75 year old history of Alachua General Hospital (“AGH”), AFTER spokespeople for Shands-AGH assured the citizens that the future of the hospital was secure, because most of the pediatric facilities were being moved there.
Because of the events described here, AGH-Shands stopped providing pediatric services, and by 2009, it was torn down. In its place has emerged the Innovative Hoax (sorry—Innovative Hub).
Candidates should be outraged by this true report and OMISSIONS about how Shands HealthCare, Inc., first hyped positively and then destroyed the AGH Hospital for the poor and middle class, 2006-2010. The rich NOT only get Innovation Hoax (er Hub) but a stand-alone children’s hospital in the Shands-Main Facility away from the poor, the middle class.
This Big Sun Expose is a Big Sun Lie—not because of the apparently accurate lengthy report with one notable exception, but because of what is not discussed. The big annual benefit is conducted by the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation; it may be ripping off its wealthy contributors, but that seemingly has little to do with the community.
The community’s loss is the gain of Shands, Tioga Center, rich people from Venezuela avoiding the regime of Hugo Chavez there, and others. Of course, none of them votes here.
- Long, long ago, in May 2006, Shands CEO Timothy Goldfarb announced the opening of a Children’s Hospital, at AGH. Goldfarb said that most non-surgical pediatric services would be relocated to the community hospital in southwest Gainesville.
- The relocation was called the first phase of development of the southwest Gainesville site as a children’s hospital. “It was a natural choice, because of the legacy of AGC as a family-oriented community hospital,” he said. Focus groups confirmed that local preference although the facility was nearly 78 years old. However, the pediatrics wing was created in the west tower of AGH.
- The tower was constructed in the 1960s. After children began to be admitted in October 2006, in a column in the Gainesville Sun, co-authored by Goldfarb, the public was assured AGH would accept 13,000 admissions a year, A quarter of them would be children , many with pulmonary and infectious diseases. In a :phase two a new tower would accommodate all children’s services in this community setting, but initially children’s services were split between AGH and what the UF College of Medicine Pediatrics Chief called “Big Shands.”
- Screw-Up in Shands Health-Care System—A Child Dies A year later, Sebastian Ferrero, a three-year-old, was brought to the UF campus Big Shands for a routine test on Oct. 8. The parents should have been celebrating. They had created a new foundation to support children and the arts. At Shands, he received 10 times a prescribed amount of medication. After being released, the child’s condition got worse; he was rushed to the emergency room at AGH, but then Sebastian was brought back to Big Shands. He died there on Oct. 10. The Gainesville Sun did not report the circumstances at first.
- First Fungus Infections at AGH pediatrics become big news. By Oct. 24-25, 2007, the New York Times’ Sun and Ocala Star Banner were reporting that five pediatric cancer patients had suffered fungal infections from April to September at AGH. Joey Schwartz, a child with leukemia, was removed, but not to worry. The public was informed the incidents were unrelated, but as a precaution new pediatric patients would go to Big Shands. In a separate account, the Sun also on Oct. 25, 2007, reported that Shands already had apologized to the Ferreros, for the mistakes made, and a settlement had been reached. On Oct. 26, 2007, several physicians signed a Sun letter. The commitment to Shands AGH remained.
- The Birth of a Foundation By Oct. 18, 2007, the entity started as the Canella Foundation to honor Luisa Ferrero’s grandfather already had its name and purpose changed to remember her son, a week before the Gainesville Sun reported any news at all about death, mistakes at Big Shands, and a settlement. Avoiding publicity, the Ferreros and Big Shands soon were on the same page to have a Children’s Hospital created.
- At AGH? In November, the Sun kept the so-called non-existent fungus infections controversy going in a half-dozen news reports, letters and opinions. Just when it appeared
- The issue had died down, a lengthy opinion article written by UF Pediatrician D r. Marci Stapleton appeared in the Sun, on Dec. 23, 2007. She reported on a meeting led by Horst Ferrero. He was a lawyer like his father and grandfather had been in his native Venezuela.
- They had been in politics there. His wife Luisa left behind 62 stores she inherited when the family moved here as Hugo Chavez consolidated his power base in Venezuela in 2004. The Ferreros had invested in what is now Tioga Center in Newberry.
- The Ferreros now wanted a stand-alone children’s hospital in Gainesville—not two separate operations at Big Shands and AGH. Dr. Stapleton identified pediatricians and pediatric medical associations as in agreement about the need for one facility.
- On Dec. 27, 2007, the Sun identified the AGH fungus infection reports as one of the major stories for the year, though it had been ignored for months. Three weeks later, the Sun reported on Jan. 18-19, 2008, that the children’s facility would be consolidated at Big Shands.
- The Sun in April 2008 ran several more reports about the fungus controversy at AGH, and then another about cutbacks in Medicaid funding. In between was another report about the return of children’s services to Big Shands only 18 months after the move to AGH.
- On May 4, 2008, the Sun went into depth about the events surrounding the death of Sebastian Ferrero, with a focus on the child’s 33-year-old father and mother. The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation established eight days after he died would be working with the Shands folks for a children’s hospital.
- They would match up to a $1 million for every dollar donated in 2008 toward that end. What also was clear by the end of that year according to a letter to the editor by a local physician was the closing of AGH entirely. In 2009-2011, AGH was closed, torn down, and replaced by the exciting new Innovation Hub.
Sebastian Ferrero Foundation: Badly Managed? Or A Criminal Enterprise?
The key issue is the creation of the Canella Foundation on the very day that the child for whom it is named was taken to the Shands hospital. Sebastian died 3 days later. A week later, Miguel Diaz, vice president of the Foundation, changed the name to the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation. What is the Canella-Ferrero connection?
A magazine article about the family notes: “Luisa Cannella-Ferrero is from an Italian family that immigrated to Venezuela where she was raised. Luisa studied International Commerce in Venezuela and graduated in 1998. She speaks four languages fluently, including Italian, Spanish, English and French. After disentangling a 62 store family business of musical instruments, which she inherited in Venezuela, Luisa and Horst relocated to the United States where they expanded the family investments in commercial real estate; specifically in Gainesville Florida, with the award winning projects known as Town of Tioga and Tioga Town Center. Read on! The connection has never been made in the Gainesville Sun or anywhere locally,
Noche de Gala: Big cost, big reward? y Anthony Clark Business editor Published: Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 9:03 p.m.
ANOTHER OMISSION: This news report actually begins in 2006, when the public was informed through the Gainesville Sun primarily that the old Alachua County General Hospital (“AGH”) (actually by then Shands-AGH). would be the primary place for pediatric services. The Sun then reported:
Fungal infections reported at AGH Six children were taken to Shands at UF as a precautionary measure. Published September 25, 2007 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20070925/NEWS/709250330
Fungal infections hit patients at AGH Dr. Richard Bucciarelli, interim head of the department of pediatrics in UF’s College of Medicine, said that an ongoing investigation is under way, and so far, it has turned up no connection between the reported cases. Published September 24, 2007 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20070924/NEWS/70924023
Report may offer AGH fungus clues Fungal infections struck five young patients. Published October 23, 2007 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20071023/NEWS/710230317
A fungus mystery at AGH Five pediatric patients at Shands at AGH caught fungal infections. Published October 21, 2007 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20071021/NEWS/710210319
Boy with leukemia struggles to survive infections Joey’s parents say he came down with two forms of fungal infection. Published October 21, 2007 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20071021/NEWS/710210313
Here comes the Ferrero child–
UF health officials describe how medicine overdose killed 3-year-old Three-year-old Sebastian Ferrero of Gainesville was a healthy, happy youngster who happened to be short for his age. His parents, Horst and Luisa Ferrero, took him in to see physicians at the University of Florida, asking whether he might be a… Published October 25, 2007 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20071025/NEWS/71025027
The current Gainesville Sun picks up here: Following the accidental death of their 3-year-old son, Sebastian, in October, 2007, Horst and Luisa Ferrero received an $850,000 settlement from Shands HealthCare. (Note: The Sun did not report Sebastian’s death until two weeks AFTER the child died:
Between death and settlement the following occurred:
Dr. Marci Slayton: Gainesville needs a children’s hospital It is difficult for us as physicians to figure out which hospital is best for our patients. Published December 23, 2007 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20071223/OPINION03/712230306
Investigators: Shands handled fungus infections correctly Shands reported five children having developed fungal infections. Published April 11, 2008 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20080411/NEWS/117325266
Review clears AGH An outside probe found that Shands properly conducted its review. Published April 12, 2008 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20080412/NEWS/804120338
Too late! AGH is dead. Here come the Ferreros.
- Dr. Marci Slayton, a community pediatrician, said that what happened to Sebastian is not unique to Shands. Health care facilities everywhere are organized around adults, Slayton said, and most medications are packaged in dosages appropriate for adults. “What’s suitable for a 100- or 150-pound adult may not be suitable for a 10- or 15-pound infant,” Slayton warned. The Ferreros and their supporters have established the Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Safety. The office will work with Shands and the UF College of Medicine to develop a comprehensive patient safety program. The forum was hosted by a couple whose son died due to medical errors. Published May 6, 2008 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20080506/NEWS/805060328
Return to Sun Account on Feb. 25, 2013:
In March 2008, the Ferreros announced that they would donate as much as $1 million to match donations for patient safety programs and to build a freestanding children’s hospital at Shands that would bring pediatric services spread around campus under one roof…. (NOTE: was this anything more than a tax trade-off? Ferreros get $850,000, from Shands; months, or only weeks later, Ferreros pledge more than that amount to the same hospital complex.)
Shands created the Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety and hired a chief quality officer, but when the foundation began in 2008, Shands leadership said a freestanding children’s hospital was not economically feasible at the time.
After Dr. David Guzick arrived as president of the UF&Shands Health System in 2009, he led a process to bring scattered parts of various clinical programs together in the same facilities so that cardiovascular services — for instance — would be in one place, as would cancer, neurology, musculoskeletal and pediatrics. (NOTE: Shands AGH had gone from great in 2006, to the end in 2009, just about the time Dr. Guzick arrived.)
That included plans to turn an existing facility into a 175-bed, four-story Shands Hospital for Children at UF. Shands started by renovating the pediatric cancer unit and has converted the former emergency room into a pediatric emergency department. It is starting renovations on the facade and lobby, to be followed by construction of an intensive care unit and a neonatal intensive care unit.
Noche de Gala quickly grew into the grandest and most elaborate event on Gainesville’s social calendar, selling out that first fall of 2008 with 720 attendees under a large tent on the grounds of Tioga Town Center. The event was moved to the 642-acre Besilu Collection horse estate near Orange Lake the following year, where it has drawn more than 900 people each year to the black-tie event — last year costing $450 to $600 per ticket — with fine dining from Embers Wood Grill and national entertainment acts under a 24,000-square-foot main tent and other tents housing bars, a charity auction and a VIP section. (NOTE: Did you go? Did you win?) Since the gala’s second year, Noche de Gala has cost the foundation between $440,000 and $515,000 per year, according to tax records, making it almost certainly the largest charity production in North Central Florida and among the largest in the state.
The foundation has received more than $9 million from donations and proceeds from the gala and has donated $3 million to the children’s hospital, with more pledged as Shands meets certain milestones….
The Ferreros — who own Tioga Town Center — have personally donated $2 million, with part of that to defray costs of the gala. The foundation also received a $5 million pledge from Gainesville native Craig Silverstein, who earned considerable wealth with Google. Silverstein was the first employee hired by Google’s two founders and recently left the company after serving as its director of technology.
Silverstein’s mother, Dr. Janet Silverstein, was the endocrinologist who ordered the test that set off a chain of events that led to Sebastian’s death. The death was a result of a series of medical errors by Shands employees and a pharmacy. She serves on the foundation’s board.
(NOTE: The only penalty Shands is known to have paid for the child’s death was a fine for about $1000 and perhaps a suspension for the pharmacist who provided the wrong dose. Neither Dr. Silverstein, Shands nor anyone else other than the pharmacist apparently did anything wrong. So why did Shands settle quietly and out of public view, out of court, for $850,000?)
Horst and Luisa Ferrero hail from Venezuela, where Horst worked as a corporate lawyer after earning a master’s in international business law from American University in Washington, D.C. He later earned a master’s of business administration from the University of Florida. Luisa — who is fluent in Italian, English, Spanish and French — studied international commerce in Venezuela and inherited a 62-store musical instrument family business. After she left the business, the Ferreros moved to Gainesville, where they partnered with the Diaz family in developing the Town of Tioga residential community and in particular the Tioga Town Center office and retail center.
Sebastian was born in 2004, the first of four boys. In October 2007, while taking a test to see if he was a candidate for growth hormone therapy, he was given an overdose of the amino acid arginine and died within 48 hours. Shands later admitted to a series of medical errors in a news conference as part of the settlement.
THE BIG LIE: THE BIG OMISSION: On Oct. 8, 2007, when Sebastian was taken to Shands Hospital for a dose of amino acid arginine, Ferrero/Cannella-Ferrero/and/or Diaz set up a Foundation, known as the Cannella Foundation, Inc., for educational purposes. Sebastian reportedly died on or about Oct. 11, 2007. A week later, Miguel J. Diaz, (note above) signed off on a name change to the Ferrero Foundation, with a new goal of a stand-alone hospital. The same law firm, Fowler White Burnett PA of Ft. Lauderdale, was the firm in both transactions.
“Instead of turning inward into our grief, we decided to launch an effort in his memory so our loss and our love for Sebastian will serve as a catalyst so no other child or family will have to ever suffer such a tragedy,” Horst Ferrero said. “We experienced back then firsthand how inadequate for families and children was the ER, which was then shared with adults, and how scattered were all the services around the campus.”
He said the easiest and cheapest thing to do would be to just write a check to Shands, “but it would not have created the impact and would not have served as the catalyst of the overall effort of advocacy and galvanizing the community.”
….While Craig Silverstein pledged $5 million in 2009, that was contingent on Shands completing the pediatric ER, which was finished in 2011. And while a majority of the donation was recorded in the foundation’s gross receipts for 2011, most of it was pledged to be spent over five years as Shands meets future milestones.
As a result, the 2011 tax form shows gross receipts of about $5.2 million, but the foundation reported that it took in about $1.8 million in revenue that year because that is all the cash it had on hand at that time. Before pledging the donation, Silverstein commissioned Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to do a risk assessment of the children’s hospital project. During this research, he decided not to donate the money directly to Shands but to the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation, according to a report from Rockefeller.
Since the pledge would not be enough to complete the hospital, “fundraising and planning to complete the project would take years and would require local knowledge and long-term commitment,” the report says. “In other words, he needed a passionate, competent local advocate who could sustain a campaign for the hospital.”
While most of the money was earmarked for the hospital, a portion was designated for foundation operating costs because “Mr. Silverstein believes that the ongoing performance of the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation is central to the success of the hospital campaign.”
Freddie Wehbe, who owns the Gator Domino’s franchise, has served on the foundation board from the beginning. He said he hears all the time from people who disagree with the logic of spending so much money on the gala but said the awareness and brand recognition the foundation has raised for the children’s hospital cannot be measured. “I think the foundation needs to do a better job of explaining that,” he said.
Guzick said the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation is among several groups, individuals and events that have contributed to the children’s hospital, including the Climb for Cancer Foundation, Stop Children’s Cancer, the Dance Marathon and NASCAR. The biggest donor is the Children’s Miracle Network, which has donated $17 million over five years.
Guzick said the Ferreros have been important advocates for the children’s hospital and patient safety. “I’ve been very appreciative in the way they’ve galvanized support for the vision,” Guzick said.
“There was a lot of skepticism,” Horst Ferrero said. “People couldn’t believe that this was going to happen. They were not sure if they should dedicate their time and their money to this effort if it was just a dream. But we were able to demonstrate that that dream was possible and it was doable, but to do that we needed to create awareness and education, and we have to use tools like the media that we embrace, and we need to have platforms like Noche de Gala.”
Editorial: What Shands did was take AGH from the poor and middle class local United States citizens in Gainesville, and give to the rich Venezuela citizens who invested their own money outside of the City to create Tioga Center.
Editorial: To Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls. And you seriously expect anything good to come out of Innovation Hub for people of your color, your class? This message is provided by the man she calls her moral conscience.