Palm Beach Post: Ex-Solantic doctor tells of intense pressure on staff to reap revenue

-By Stacey Singer

July 10, 2011- When family practice physician Randy Prokes joined Solantic Urgent Care in 2004, he told state investigators, his Neptune Beach clinic brought in just $2,000 a day.

By the time he was fired from that job nearly six years later, Prokes said, that same clinic had quadrupled revenues to about $8,000 a day, reaping profit margins unheard of at most doctors' offices.

To achieve the urgent care chain's aggressive financial goals, doctors and nurse practitioners were expected to stand through 14-hour shifts, Prokes told state investigators in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement file obtained by The Palm Beach Post.

The sale of the Solantic urgent care chain to a New York private equity group this month marks Florida Gov. Rick Scott's exit from health industry management.

While critics blamed Scott's bottom-line, bonus-focused management for encouraging a culture of cheating at his first health venture, Columbia/HCA, a close look at Scott's subsequent ventures shows the same pressures at work.

Executives who have worked under Scott described his style as incentive-based, to a fault: Top performers received top rewards, so long as they continued to meet their numbers.

Bottom performers had to improve or leave. As a result, some ex-employees and consultants allege, Scott's managers occasionally took extreme steps.

Shaun Ginter, the Solantic chain's former chief operating officer, said Prokes' attacks have contributed to a misunderstanding of Scott, whom he found personable, pleasant and a strategically effective businessman.

"I think one of the biggest pieces of advice he gave was to always assume good will and be objective," Ginter said in an interview with The Post. "It did not surprise me at all when he went into politics, because there is such an opportunity to improve the way our state is run."

But at least one doctor – Prokes – believed the bottom-line focus too often compromised patient care by creating a sweatshop work environment for doctors and nurses.


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