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Key West considers taking back its hospital

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
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The Florida Channel
Lower Keys Medical Center

Lower Keys Medical Center is a publicly owned hospital. But it’s leased to a private for-profit company.

Key West City Commissioner Sam Kaufman supports a move to return the hospital to community control.

“Do they really care about our community first or do they care about the shareholders first? We know the answer to that. That’s obvious,” Kaufman said. “They have to do what’s best for the shareholders.”

Stephen Pennington is with the company that runs the hospital.

At a public workshop in Key West Pennington promised the company would do better at responding to complaints.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Pennington said. “We have improvements to make. We’ve got relationships to mend. And also, trust to gain. We’re committed to rebuilding trust and regaining your confidence.”

The City Commission is set to vote Tuesday evening on whether to start legal action to return the hospital to public hands.

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.