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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lakeshore Hospital Authority

Lakeshore Hospital Authority - Former repo man Berry KO's qualified applicant

The working families of Columbia County, Florida, pay some of the highest indigent care taxes in the state. The County's Indigent Care Program is designed to be a safety net for those who cannot afford health insurance. Columbia County is one of the few counties in the state where the Hospital Board is appointed by the Governor. The good ol' boys of the county have generally been able to pack the board with their cronies and throw the rule of law out the window, which is nothing new in most all boards and commissions in legendary Columbia County.

Recently, county resident, Hal DuPriest had chest pains and no health insurance. Mr. DuPriest told the Observer: "My family has a history of heart attacks. I had chest pains one night. I went to the emergency room."


Hal DuPriest outside the Hosp Auth after the March 14th meeting. He was too nervous to speak. After this article was posted, Mr. DuPriest said that the State has now put a hold on his $550 unemployment insurance.

Mr. DuPriest, a paramedic, met some friends, professionals in the medical field, in the emergency room, who knew his circumstances and was advised that he should have no trouble qualifying for the Lakeshore Hosp Auth Indigent Care Program.

He applied for the program, was accepted and given an Authority identity card to show that he was in the program.

"I have never taken anything from anybody."

Mr. DuPriest told the Observer, "I've worked since I was 12. I have never taken anything from anybody. I'm 53 now."

He continued, "My income is $550 every two weeks. I have a 15-year-old living with me. The school is the most important thing to me now, besides my daughter. This is a safety net for me, not a life style. I drive to Jacksonville every day. I'm barely making it. I get a little bit of food stamps for my 15-year-old. For extra money now I pick up cans and sell the metal."

The Observer: What seemed to be the problem?

Mr. DuPriest: They're [Berry] trying to say I have over $10,000 in assets.

The Observer: Do you?

Mr. DuPriest:  No. I have one car I own outright. I have two other vehicles that are financed.

The Observer: Did they take your card back?

Mr. DuPriest:  Yes. He sat there and told me I had a $10,000 asset. And then he called me a liar. I said, where did I lie? I've been truthful. -- Well, how about a 1996 Chevy? I said oh that's my son's truck. He said, "Well your name's on it."

The Observer:  About how much do you owe on the car?

Mr. DuPriest told the Observer that he owed $10,000 on the car. "If you have a $10,000 car, and you owe $10,000, you have zero assets. Nobody does bookwork like he is saying."

The Observer asked about the other assets Mr. Berry was claiming Mr. DuPriest had.

Former repo man Berry called him a liar.

Mr. DuPriest explained that he bought the 1996 Chevy for his son five years ago and put it in his name because his son was too young to get a title himself. Mr. DuPriest said, "That was five years ago. I forgot about it. I don't use the truck, it is his truck. For that he calls me a liar."

The Observer:  Where is your son now?

Mr. DuPriest:  He just got back from Okinawa. He's in the Air Force.

The Observer asked about the other vehicles that the former Repo man and Republican Chief, Berry considered financial assets.

Mr. DuPriest explained that he has a 1990 junk Chevy in his backyard and that he had junked a car that DMV never took out of the system.

The Observer:  In a previous conversation that we had, you said you told Mr. Berry that you offered to pay the  money back.

DuPriest offered to pay the money back.

Mr. DuPriest:  I told him, this is temporary for me. I told him, if you pay for this, I'll pay you back somehow. I'll donate the money. Mr. Berry said, 'We can't take the money back.'" 

Updated April 11, 09:56 am - info about unemployment on hold added

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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