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  • “A new chapter has begun…”


    A new chapter has begun in the 69-year-old relationship between the health charity run by the not-for-profit Wuesthoff Health Systems and the Brevard County communities it serves.

    Wuesthoff Health Systems is now “The Space Coast Health Foundation Inc.,” and the Wuesthoff Health Systems Foundation is now “The 1941 Foundation Inc,” according to papers filed with the Florida Secretary of State.

    The name changes were required as a condition of Wuesthoff’s $145 million sale on Oct. 1 to Naples, Fl.-based Hospital Management Associates, a for-profit corporation.

    Johnette Gindling, former senior vice president of marketing and communications for Wuesthoff Health Systems and a seven-year resident of Brevard County, has been named executive director of both for the time being, said Gary Davis, senior partner at McDermott Will and Emery in Miami, which represented Wuesthoff in the sale.

    “Right now there are two legally separate foundations,” he said. “Essentially they are operating as parallel organizations, so she’s running both for the moment.”

    The $30 million to $50 million in proceeds from the sale after paying off Wuesthoff’s liabilities will ultimately be under control of the Space Coast Health Foundation, which Gindling will run, Davis said.

    Those assets will be invested in an endowment to support “health and wellness initiatives,” board chairman Fran Pickett said in a prepared statement.

    “My vision is that the residents of Brevard will know that their health and wellness has improved because of the Wuesthoff legacy,” she said.

    The foundation’s new board is made up of former members of the Wuesthoff Health System board: Bill Bancroft, John Banks, Jim Dwight, Dr. Valerie Browne-Krimsley, and Larry Schultz.

    The focus for the next 18-24 months will be to “unwind” Wuesthoff and its entities and build a new foundation, Gindling said in a prepared statement. Steps include understanding regulatory and oversight requirements, creating operating principles and researching the community’s health needs, she said.

    Philip Sprinkle, an attorney with Balch & Bingham, has been hired to help them through that process.

    One important issue will be deciding just what type of non-profit status they’ll have as they move forward, which will determine how they can spend their money, Sprinkle said.

    That process to re-establish their tax-exempt status with the IRS could take up to a year, he said.

    “Because of the sea change that occurs when a (not-for-profit) hospital asset is sold, it is not uncommon to have two separate entities,” Sprinkle said.

    “It’s a new name, but it is the same corporate entity. It has a totally different focus now. Last week, its focus was on running a hospital. Now its task is to redesign itself to comply with its tax-exempt status and continue to serve the community.”


    Contact Schweers at 242-3668 or jschweers@floridatoday.com