Health & Medicine

A timeline of the HealthFirst proposed clinic project


Oct. 1, 2010: A $11.7 million federal grant for a new public health clinic was approved for HealthFirst Bluegrass.

June 21, 2012: HealthFirst signed a lease for two buildings at 496 Southland Drive with Lexington Developer Ted J. Mims and his co-owner Greg McDonald.

Dec. 16, 2012: HealthFirst board approves a design for Southland Drive clinic.

Jan. 28, 2013: Former HealthFirst Executive Director William North says an anonymous complaint prompted the Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees the grant, to ask for a formal review of the historic value of the properties. This stalls construction efforts.

April 9, 2013: HealthFirst announces that HRSA has set a April 28 deadline to resolve issues between the Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health and HealthFirst or lose a $2.4 million operational grant. The major point of contention? How millions in local health tax money is split between the county Board of Health and HealthFirst. The BOH votes to cut HealthFirst's $1.2 million share by half.

April 18, 2013: Tom Burich, chairman of the HealthFirst building committee, sets a 30-day deadline to end the Southland project unless financial help is received from the community or a charitable foundation.

May 1, 2013: HealthFirst votes to stop spending money on Southland Drive after an internal audit showed a deficit of $515,000, $300,000 more in debt than reported the previous week. Mims tells the board he no longer wants to be paid his $15,000 monthly salary. (He continues to submit invoices and is paid $150,000 through September.) North, citing an April 26 Herald-Leader editorial calling for a HealthFirst audit, submits documentation to State Auditor Adam Edelen.

May 9, 2013: BOH restores cuts in local health tax dollars to HealthFirst.

May 14, 2013: Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Edelen hold a news conference to announce a review of the land deal that brought the HealthFirst clinic to Southland.

May 16, 2013: With an auditor's report pending, HealthFirst's board votes unanimously to continue with the Southland project. Burich, as building committee chairman, is given a standing ovation at a HealthFirst meeting.

July 17, 2013: HealthFirst cuts 21 jobs and reorganizes staff.

July 25, 2013: The state auditor finds that HealthFirst Bluegrass pre-selected developer Mims as project manager and created a conflict of interest that could jeopardize the $11.7 million federal grant, and that HealthFirst's financial viability is threatened by cash-flow problems.

Aug. 5, 2013: In a guest commentary in the Herald-Leader, Burich and board chairman T.A. Lester say the auditor's report showed no wrongdoing by HealthFirst and that concerns about the project are the result of a "fictional narrative."

Aug. 13, 2013: BOH chairman Scott White calls HealthFirst's public response to the audit "delusional." The BOH asks HealthFirst for a plan to deal with issues raised in the audit.

Aug. 15, 2013: HealthFirst, for the second time in six months, threatens to pull the plug on the project without financial support from the community.

Aug. 18, 2013: Healthcare advocates say HealthFirst budget cuts and policy are keeping poor women from getting breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Aug. 22, 2013: Citing financial instability and poor management of HealthFirst, the BOH asks that North be removed from his job. The HealthFirst board of directors, meeting down the hall at 650 Newtown Pike at the same time, vote unanimously to retain North.

Sept. 9, 2013: BOH, again, withdraws tax dollars from HealthFirst, votes to find new partner to build $11.7 million clinic.

Sept. 20, 2013: North, four board members of HealthFirst resign. Dr. Steve Davis, a former deputy director of the state department of public health, is appointed as executive director of HealthFirst.

Sept. 23, 2013: HRSA officials ask for information about Mims' contract.

Dec. 9, 2013: HealthFirst votes to renegotiate the contract with Mims and his partner, McDonald.

Compiled by Mary Meehan