LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Medstar shut-down now qualifies as a cover-up, in the opinion of Lee County commissioner Frank Mann. And he says that makes him very nervous and unhappy.
"I have never used the phrase cover-up in my time as an elected official, until now. This event surely is a cover-up, because you have facts coming out that are far different from the initial explanation," said Mann.
WINK News uncovered e-mails that seem to indicate, top county managers knew of the plan to offer a fairly incomplete explanation on Aug. 21, when the program was suspended.
Chris Hansen, who was the chief of Lee Emergency Medical Services some years ago, sent recommended responses to questions to co. manager Karen Hawes. One response indicates that the county attorney's office, human resources, and public safety all were participating in the initial explanation: that the program had to hire nurses to gain a national accredidation.
Hansen is making up to $15,000, giving advice to county admnistrators on what to do with the medical heliopter program. It appears he also is giving advice on how to get out information on developments. That also concerns Mann.
"Having someone 'spin' the story is not what we need. That's the last thing we need. We need straight answers," he told WINK.
Hansen also advised manager Hawes on how to answer the question: why didn't you get the people in public safety to fix the problems at Medstar, before it came to a total shutdown?
He suggested she blame the failure to get proper certifications, a cascade of mistakes, and serious personnel issues. He also advised Hawes to play up the angle to protecting the public, by suspending Medstar.
Hansen tells WINK he was hired on a short-term basis by Lee co. to help with communications, and to vet ideas for the future of a medical flight program. We sent an e-mail to co. manager Hawes, asking for a comment. As of 5:35pm Wednesday, she had not responded.