Former HMA executive faces federal charge

Published Dec. 2, 2013

TAMPA — A former vice president with Naples-based hospital chain Health Management Associates has been indicted on a charge of falsifying records to impede a federal investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

Joshua S. Putter, 48, who now lives in Needham, Mass., faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, according to a news release from prosecutors.

HMA took over operations at the not-for-profit Bayfront Medical Center, now Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, earlier this year.

The chain will soon be acquired by another for-profit chain, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, pending final approvals.

HMA faces a number of ongoing inquiries by federal agencies, including questions over hospital admissions. But the indictment does not fully describe the accusations against Putter.

Prosecutors say the alleged crime took place in October 2008.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Office of Inspector General with U.S. Health and Human Services.

Putter was arraigned in federal court in Fort Myers and released on bail.

His case is scheduled for January.

He was most recently chief operating officer at a Massachusetts hospital chain, Steward Health Care System, but took an indefinite leave for personal reasons, according to an article last month in the Boston Globe. He is no longer employed by Steward, according to Brooke Thurston, spokeswoman for the hospital system.

Other local hospitals in the HMA chain include Pasco Regional Medical Center in Dade City, and Brooksville Regional Hospital and Spring Hill Regional Hospital, both in Hernando County.