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Edward Hospital CEO tells of her role in ferreting out corruption
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff

Pam Davis

 

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Published: 1/15/2009 12:02 AM

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Pam Davis believes vengeance has prevented her from building a new hospital in Plainfield.

The CEO of Edward Hospital in Naperville said Wednesday she believes there are people still influencing the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board who have it out for her because she blew the whistle on a wide-ranging array of corruption within the state agency. Her actions eventually helped lead to the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich as well as several other powerbrokers and government officials.

Federal authorities made headlines with high-profile arrests and convictions using information gathered through secret recordings Davis collected for nearly a year in 2003 wearing a hidden wire. While investigators reveled in the glory, Davis suffered physically and mentally in an effort to flesh out the scope of the corruption.

With one more shot before the state oversight board later this month, Davis is opening up about her time as a federal informant and the group of people who will ultimately decide the fate of the Plainfield project.

She talked with the Daily Herald on Wednesday. Here is an edited transcript.

Q. Do you think Edward Hospital's Plainfield proposal will ever get a fair shake from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board?

A. I think they're in a very difficult position. They are still being advised by people in place during the corruption. I actually believe there is revenge occurring. There's been a lot of attention focused on how this whole process worked. I'm hoping we'll have a fair and reasonable review.

Q. Why have you waited so long to open up about your thoughts on the state corruption scandal?

A. There was still a lot of investigation work going on, not necessarily on my end, but by others, and I felt it wasn't my place. The turning point was when they arrested the governor and his chief of staff. I did check then and see if I was able to talk.

Q. Did you ever think it would get this big?

A. I had suspicions early on that it was serious, widespread, deep corruption.

Q. Do you think it ends with Blagojevich's arrest?

A. I have no way of knowing that.

Q. Having seen little come of it for Edward, do you regret sticking your neck out?

A. Absolutely not. I'd do nothing different. I did this for every citizen who lives in a free country in a free world. I feel the world functions best when good citizens take responsibility and speak up.

Q. What advice do you have for someone thinking about being a whistle-blower?

A. I think it is an individual decision. I would encourage anyone to speak out against evil. I certainly would not be critical and judgmental against those who do it. I was lucky to have a lot of resources and friends and family supporting my decision.

Q. Were you ever afraid, either for your personal safety or professional career?

A. When I started out I was rather naive. As I gained more insight into the type of corruption it was, I realized I didn't know what type of rules they would follow if they wanted to shut me up. I developed high blood pressure and my fingernails began thinning to the point they fell off. I felt I couldn't trust people. Over time, yes, I became afraid.

Q. Did it surprise you how cavalier the people shaking you down were with their demands?

A. It surprised me how cavalier everyone was with their demands, their arrogance and their absolute sense of power being above the law. They had no shame, and I didn't pick up any sense of embarrassment by what they were doing. It felt (like) they had been behaving this way for so long, it was just normal for them.

Q. What type of reform do you believe is necessary in the business of legislating the health care industry?

A. I believe in a free market system just like any other business. The buyer is very capable of deciding which businesses succeed and which fail. I do not believe we need (the planning board's) certificate of need.

Q. Do you fear that your role in this investigation has overshadowed what you're trying to do with Edward in Plainfield?

A. I don't know how to answer that question. The facts for this project speak for themselves, and right and good will win. I do think it's terribly embarrassing and disappointing we have a governor who is being impeached.