Prince George's County Council member Ann Lombardi, who led the successful effort last fall to defeat a proposal to lease the county's financially troubled hospitals to a private, profit-making firm, called yesterday for creation of a non-profit corporation to run the facilities.
Lombardi, who previously said she opposed the plan of County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan to lease the county's three hospitals and a nursing home to the Hospital Corporation of America on philosophical grounds, said yesterday she has changed her mind on the question of leasing and will propose her own plan to the council.
"It turns out we agree with Hogan--the lease is the way to go," said Lombardi. Her proposal, she said, offers advantages of tighter management and freedom from political interference, while protecting community interests such as providing care for indigents.
Hogan, a Republican whose plan was rejected by the all-Democratic council, was skeptical of her approach. He said he was pleased that the idea of leasing now has support, "but a non-profit corporation is not going to have the money to pay the debt service, to pay the deficit, or to finance capital improvements, so we're right back where we started."
Lombardi will present the idea as the chairwoman of a 26-member hospital committee the council formed after voting 7 to 3 to table the lease with the private corporation negotiated by Hogan. The hospital committee originally was supposed to draft legislation to create a hospital authority, which would have power to raise money through bond sales. The committee decided instead to recommend leasing the facilities to a non-profit corporation.
Lombardi's committee included representatives of citizens groups, an attorney, physicians, hospital administrators, as well as council member William Amonett, State Sen. Tommie Broadwater, and state Dels. Joan Pitkin, Charles Ryan, and Lorraine Sheehan. Hogan refused to send representatives of his office to the group, objecting that the committee was formed to promote a hospital authority, which he doesn't approve of.
The hospital committee will review a first draft of its report this evening at a meeting in the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.