By Andy Alcock
August 5, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - The top candidate to lead the troubled Bond Community Health Center has rejected that offer.
Richard Perry serves in a similar role at a southern Wisconsin facility.
"The concern was not being set up to fail before I could get started," Perry said.
Perry said he was close to taking the job as the new chief executive officer at Bond Community Health Center.
He even brought his wife for a visit.
"Had some concerns for her in regards to relocating and not sure if we would still be there a year later," said Perry.
Perry pointed to several factors in his decision.
They include staffing and morale issues at Bond.
They also include financial problems at the health care center for low income residents.
And most significantly, Perry expressed a concern about community support.
The Leon County Commissioners, led by long time supporter Bill Proctor, have suspended funding for Bond jeopardizing 28 percent of its revenue.
One of Bond's founding doctors, Ed Holified, also criticized Perry for running a more than $800,000 deficit at his Wisconsin facility a few years ago.
"My concern was being able to totally focus on Bond to help turn it around and working with the community leaders and not having them work against the organization," said Perry.
Perry says the reason his center ran a deficit is a major General Motors plant closed down in southern Wisconsin.
He also says unemployment was at 18 percent in the area.
And with a resulting huge increase in uninsured clients, the federal grant money hasn't changed since 2009.
He says he's been able to turn it around through budget cuts and private sector partnerships.
As for Bond, he thinks it will be a tough sell to get someone else to relocate for the CEO job.
"With the financial situation that the organization is in, they're going to be concerned about having a salary a year from now," said Perry.
Bond Board Chair Antonio Jefferson previously told us Perry led a list of ten finalists for the CEO job.
He told us Monday he won't comment any further until a new CEO has been chosen.
Tallahassee's troubled Bond Community Center may be just days away from getting a commitment from a new chief executive officer.
Richard Perry is a New Jersey native.
For about the past 15 years, Perry has run a clinic similar to Bond Community Health Center in Beloit, Wisconsin called Community Health Systems Inc.
Bond Board Chair Antonio Jefferson says Perry is the top candidate to be the center's new CEO.
According to documents exclusively obtained by Eyewitness News, Perry's center in Beloit ran a more than $840,000 operating deficit in the 2010-11 budget year out of nearly $11-million in expenses.
Reporter: "What are your thoughts about him as a possible new CEO at Bond?
Ed Holifield: "Well I think it would be absolutely ludicrous."
Doctor Ed Holifield was part of a handful of physicians who founded Bond about 30 years ago to provide health care to poor and mostly black patients.
He's deeply concerned about the new CEO choice.
Jefferson tells us the board knew about the deficit year at Perry's center, asked him about it and was satisfied with the answers.
Perry served 20 years as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, then has worked in banking and public health.
He began at Community Health Systems in Beloit in !998 as its first executive director.
"Why on earth would Antonio Jefferson and the board be recruiting him?" said Holifield. "I mean there's something that doesn't add up here," he said. "I think the community needs to ask hard questions," Holifield said.
Perry made his second visit to Tallahassee on Friday.
He's expected to make a decision about whether or not he wants the job on Wednesday.
We tried to reach Perry for comment and he has not responded.