Health Care

Broward Health CEO resigns amid infighting and investigations

Beverly Capasso
Beverly Capasso - Broward Health

The chief executive of the public hospital system for northern Broward County announced her resignation on Wednesday, citing personal reasons for stepping down amid an ongoing investigation by the State Attorney’s Office into allegations that she and others violated Florida’s public meetings laws.

The resignation of Beverly Capasso, 62 — who had been in the job since May 2017 — creates more uncertainty for the taxpayer-supported hospital system, which has been struggling to handle infighting and indictments of its top leaders after previously settling federal charges of healthcare fraud and physician kickbacks. Capasso is among five Broward Health leaders indicted by a grand jury last year on grounds they violated Florida’s open-meetings law in their handling of the dismissal of a past chief executive, Pauline Grant.

Capasso has pleaded not guilty to the charges of violating public-meetings laws, and the case remains open.

In a press release, Capasso said she was “honored” to serve as chief executive of Broward Health for the past year. Broward Health’s board of commissioners selected Capasso for the top job about five months after Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed the veteran healthcare executive to the hospital system’s governing board.

“I am ready to move on to the next chapters of my life,” Capasso said in a written statement. “I am completing my doctorate of nursing and look forward to spending more time with my family.”

Andrew Klein, chairman of the North Broward Hospital District’s board of commissioners, which oversees Broward Health, said he was disappointed to see Capasso leave and credited her with improving the stability and financial health of the $1.9 billion-a-year system of five hospitals and numerous clinics.

He cited the board’s recent approval of a $20 million reduction in annual property taxes that support Broward Health and the appointment of an executive leadership team as significant achievements by Capasso.

“That’s why in large part it’s so disappointing to see someone like her go, and what it may mean for the system going forward and stability,” Klein said. “Stability is an important element of what we need at the district.”

The board is scheduled to meet on Oct. 12 to review Capasso’s resignation and discuss the next steps for finding a new CEO, Klein said.

Klein described a strained relationship between Broward Health’s general counsel’s office, the executive team and an independent law firm appointed to ensure the hospital system is abiding by the terms of a corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. Broward Health officials signed on to the agreement after paying $69.5 million in 2015 to settle federal fraud charges brought by a former physician turned whistle-blower.

Klein, who was named board chairman in March after the past chair resigned, said he has worked to unify the board, which is supposed to have seven members but currently has two vacancies. Klein said he has spoken out at public meetings against the corrosive nature of the relationship between the general counsel’s office and the independent law firm on one side and the executive team on the other.

“That infighting has to stop,” he said. “Some of the internal targeting has to stop, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be ceasing and creates a less-than-ideal environment between management and counsel.”

Capasso did not say when she will step down. But her contract provides a 90-day termination notice. Klein said he expects Capasso to remain as CEO until Jan. 3, though the matter is likely to be raised at a human resources committee meeting on Oct. 9 or at the board’s next full meeting on Oct. 31, he said.

As CEO, Capasso’s compensation includes a base annual salary of $750,000, and two incentive bonuses that could raise her annual pay to as much as $1.125 million.

Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman for Broward Health, said Capasso will work with Broward Health’s governing board to conduct a search for a new executive leader.

Prior to her appointment to Broward Health’s governing board, Capasso had been chief executive of Jackson Memorial Hospital, the flagship facility of Miami-Dade’s public hospital network, Jackson Health System.

Follow Daniel Chang on Twitter @dchangmiami