Edward CEO pushed back on pay to play
She wore a wire, breakfasted with criminals and played a role in Rod Blagojevich's downfall, but Pam Davis has yet to gain the Plainfield hospital that figured in the convictions of the former governor's cronies.
Edward Hospital officials did not comment Monday on the guilty verdicts in Blagojevich's corruption trial, but the Naperville hospital was part of the tangled web of pay to play that caught up the governor's men.
"I think I'm being extorted," is how hospital president and CEO Davis described a shakedown attempt to FBI agents back in 2003.
The extortion came from builder Jacob Kiferbaum regarding Edward's plan to build a $218 million hospital in Plainfield. If Davis hired his firm, the then-Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board would OK the Plainfield project, Kiferbaum promised.
Health board member Stuart Levine, Kiferbaum and their confederate Tony Rezko, a Blagojevich fundraiser, all were convicted on corruption charges in relation to the Edward Hospital shakedown.
The three trials served as opening acts for the main event involving the governor, although the Edward issue did not surface in the Blagojevich case.
"I felt I was in the right place at the right time," Davis said.
The FBI treated her with skepticism initially but outfitted her with a wire, which Davis wore for eight months.
Davis has made light of the ordeal, describing odd encounters between her secretary and an FBI agent lurking by her desk and an embarrassing faux pas when she complained about investigators before remembering they were listening to her conversations.
But the stress of the situation gave her high blood pressure. Most frightening was a breakfast meeting with the cabal in Deerfield when Davis was followed home.
Eight years later, Edward has no second hospital although it's not for lack of trying.
Vice President of Marketing Brian Davis said the institution still wants to bring a hospital to Plainfield but is monitoring the economics of health care in the area and watching the regulatory process.
Davis has no regrets, she has said. "I feel fortunate I had the opportunity to right a wrong."