Health & Medicine

Federal officials want information about project manager for planned HealthFirst clinic

HealthFirst had planned to raze this building at 496 Southland Drive in Lexington and replace it with a clinic.
HealthFirst had planned to raze this building at 496 Southland Drive in Lexington and replace it with a clinic. Lexington Herald-Leader

Federal officials have asked to receive information by Thursday about the tax-funded work developer Ted J. Mims has done for HealthFirst Bluegrass.

Dr. Steve Davis, HealthFirst interim executive director, wrote in a letter dated Oct. 24 and addressed to State Auditor Adam Edelen that federal officials had questions about "the actions of the project manager."

An investigation this summer by the auditor found Mims appeared to be pre-selected for his $15,000 a month job as project manager for the $11.7 million federally-funded construction of a public health clinic on Southland Drive.

The report raised the question of whether that would violate procurement laws which require competitive bidding for contracts. The letter by Davis was part of HealthFirst's response to some concerns raised in the audit.

The Health Services Resource Administration, which oversees the grant, opened its own investigation after the release of the auditor's report. It did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Attorney Richard Getty, who is representing Mims, said his client had responded to general questions about the construction project. He said he was not aware of specific questions about Mims' work or his hiring. He has denied that Mims was pre-selected for the job.

Getty said the Board of Health essentially has taken over control of HealthFirst and has refused to pay $75,000 Mims billed the agency in September. If paid, that would bring Mims' total payment to $150,000. Construction has yet to begin.

HealthFirst, which operates as a public health clinic, has been in a state of upheaval since the auditor's report came out in July. Most of the board of directors has resigned, as has former executive director William North.

Getty, who is also representing North, said the Board of Health has refused to pay a severance package approved by the HealthFirst board when North resigned in September.

Board of Health chairman Scott White said the issues Getty raised needed to be dealt with by a newly assembled HealthFirst Board. It is scheduled to meet Wednesday.

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