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Hospital enforces nepotism rule

Paul Powers, vice president of finance at Tampa General Hospital, said he "never put a gun" to anyone's head to get his teen-age daughter hired as a part-time file clerk in the hospital's collections department. But personnel officials said the hiring late last month apparently violated the hospital's nepotism policy. And Monday, Powers' 16-year-old daughter, Jenny, was dismissed from her $4-an-hour job.

"In my opinion, it was just a poor judgment on Paul's part," said Ross Alander, vice president of human resources. "We do have a lot of related people here working in different areas, but you can't work in a department where a relative supervises or can directly influence your job."

"This is highly inappropriate and shows very poor judgment," said County Commissioner Jan Platt, a member of the Hillsborough County Hospital Authority. "There were complaints about nepotism at this hospital in the auditor general's report several years ago, and I'd hate to see us regress back to this."

Platt raised the matter at Monday's Finance Committee meeting when she handed to an authority attorney an anonymous letter detailing the hire. Platt said she believes the hospital administration should review Powers' actions and take appropriate measures against him.

Alander said the hire caught him off guard. He said his staff discovered the situation last week but took no action because Powers was out of town and could not be reached for an explanation.

Powers said he never pressured Ed Locklear, collections manager and Powers' subordinate, to hire his daughter.

"It was a simple case of, we needed a file clerk on a temporary basis, and my daughter needed a temporary job," Powers said. "I said, "Don't hire her because of me, and if she's not doing her job, don't keep her.'

"I was not aware I was doing anything wrong," he said. "But if I had it to do all over again, I'd never bring her name up."

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