The Daily

The Political History Of Lee County’s Public Hospitals


LMH was created by Special Act of the State Legislature in 1961, requiring a local vote for the charter to become effective. That vote failed in 1963. Without any changes to the Special Act, the State instead just passed another special bill establishing the Hospital Board. There appears never to have been a public vote approving the Hospital Authority, as required by its original bill of authorization. In addition, unlike other Government Hospital Districts around the State, LMHS has never had taxing authority of its own.

The ensuing uncertainty over the role and responsibility of LMHS created disputes concerning the Hospital’s status and authority as an agent of Lee County. LMH does not appear to qualify as a County Hospital but is sometimes described as a County Agency.[1] Adding to the confusion, the language of one statute expressly states that the “Board members are not county or public officers”[2]. If true, this conflicts with the language of the immunity statute cited by LMH to grant its employees, including Board Members, with sovereign immunity.[3]

Last week’s blog covered the pervasive government influence on local health care. Next week’s blog will cover the recent history.

Disputes between LMH and Lee County over the Hospital’s governance, authority and reach led to a lawsuit filed in 1973. In that lawsuit, the Honorable Judge Carlton entered a judgment describing the legal relationship between the County and its political agency, LMH. That judgment did not end the political infighting or the turf war, which continue to this day played out in news reports, commission meetings, doctors’ offices and hospitals.


[1] Florida Statute Chapter 155 and FS 91-410 Sec. 11

[2] Id.

[3] Id.