History & Overview of Lee Health’s Business Structure
About Lee Health
Lee Health is proud to have served Lee County – the community we call home – for 107 years. In that time, our health system has grown from a single downtown hospital that opened in 1916 to the vibrant, full-service health system it is today, expanding and transforming to meet the evolving needs of a rapidly growing Lee County and region.
Lee Health provides a broad array of essential healthcare services to ensure patients get the right care, at the right time and in the right place through a network of hospitals, physician practices and other community-based services.
At the heart of Lee Health is our safety-net mission – our commitment to provide high-quality, compassionate care to the residents of our community regardless of their ability to pay. In 2022, Lee Health provided more than $80 million in Charity Care and had an overall Community Benefit of $165 million. Lee Health receives no direct tax support for its operations.
In its first 50 years of operation, Lee Health was a community-centered private nonprofit entity. In 1968, Lee Health began operating as an independent special healthcare district created by the Florida Legislature and governed by an elected Board of Directors. This business structure has served the health system and the community well over the years.
Today’s Financial Realities
Over the past few decades, our community has grown dramatically, and we’ve worked hard to stay ahead of growth and to create an opportunity-filled work environment for team members and clinicians — expanding and transforming from one hospital into a fully integrated health system and national leader in healthcare.
Our many successes, however, do not make us immune to the pressures we are facing, including:
- Dramatic and lasting increases in our supply and labor costs brought on by the pandemic
- A surge of new competition in our community from large, for-profit health systems and private equity companies
The Impact of the Repeal of Certificate of Need
Additionally, Florida repealed significant portions of its long-standing Certificate of Need (CON) program in 2019. The repeal made it easier for most health systems to expand their services, including large for-profit health systems and well-funded private equity companies based in other states. Subsequently, 65 new hospitals were announced to be built in Florida between 2020 and 2022. However, Lee Health has been largely excluded from this expansion because there are limitations to what geographic region we can operate in (Lee County and as defined in the Enabling Act).
Lee Health’s Unwavering Commitment to the Community
The healthcare environment is rapidly changing, and we must adapt and grow to continue our mission in our community. We have a responsibility to thoughtfully consider and prepare for the external changes that will shape our future, including taking time to study which business structure will provide the greatest benefit to Lee County residents and best protect our ability to fulfill our mission. As leaders of Lee Health and Stewards of Lee County residents’ health care resources, we must do all we can to identify solutions that will ensure our health system remains locally led, financially strong and fully focused on delivering exceptional care to the people in our region for generations to come.
One option is to evaluate whether returning to a community-centered private nonprofit business structure from our current public nonprofit business structure would provide greater benefits to the residents of Lee County.
Recent legislative changes to Lee Health’s Enabling Act established a process for the Lee Health Board of Directors to engage an independent firm to conduct such an assessment.
- Significant work must be done to gather all the facts and analyze the information that will help us determine the optimal structure for Lee Health. We must conduct appropriate due diligence and follow the process set forth by the Florida legislature.
- This will be a thoughtful and lengthy discernment process. Any potential change to our business structure will be based on what we learn and what is best to protect our financial health, independence and community-led structure long term, while ensuring our ability to provide a full array of high-quality services to the residents of Lee County, regardless of their ability to pay
If you have questions or require further information, email us at [email protected], or simply click the link below to send us an email today.