How Zudans was chosen for Hospital District seat
The recent appointment by the governor of ophthalmologist Val Zudans to the Indian River County Hospital District came as a surprise to District trustees and staff who did not know he had applied, but not to Zudans himself.
Zudans told Vero Beach 32963 he had been interested in a District seat for more than a year. He said he had talked about possibly running for a seat to a friend at his church who supported him, retired District trustee Alma Lee Loy.
But Zudans said he did not run for a District seat in the 2014 elections because he was too busy as president of the County Medical Society, as a pro bono eye surgeon with We Care, and with his practice at the Florida Eye Institute.
In December, however, he knew his term as medical society chief would end, and he began looking at other ways to serve the community in the healthcare field.
In late September he read an article in Vero Beach 32963 about a vacant seat on the Hospital District that would be filled for a year by a governor’s appointment. On Oct. 1, he sent an online application and resume to Gov. Rick Scott’s appointment office.
Along with the four other applicants, he got a call from Craig Carbone in the appointment office asking him questions about his background and what he hoped to accomplish if appointed.
But, a few days later, he got something the other four applicants didn’t get: a call asking him to meet with the governor.
On Oct. 16, he drove two hours to the airport in Lakeland and met the governor in a conference room. They talked for 15 minutes and, while Zudans thought they had “good rapport,” he drove back not knowing whether he would be appointed or not.
But from their conversation, he knew what the governor wanted:
• Increased transparency about the price of services at the hospital.
• The insistence that nonprofits receiving tax dollars from the District be fully accountable about how they are spending money.
• Reasonable charges to patients at the hospital.
• Metrics for measuring the quality of patient satisfaction and other services at the hospital.
At noon, on Oct. 22, Zudans got a call from Scott telling him he was his choice.
“You’ll do a good job. Keep the hospital accountable,” said the governor.
Zudans thanked him for putting his trust in him and set to work learning more about the District.
Currently, he said, he wants to know more about what the hospital will do about the Physician Services Division at the hospital, which at the present time shows a multi-million dollar deficit between what the hospital-employed physicians bring in and the revenue they generate.
Further, he is concerned about another $4 million loss from the low-income pool.
The District currently gives over $8 million in tax dollars to Indian River Medical Center annually, prompting Zudans to voice concern over what reducing that amount could do for the taxpayers.
“As a District trustee, I want to do my part to make sure the taxpayers are getting good care and good value,” he said.