TODAY'S PAPER

Nassau University Medical Center cost-cutting gears up

An aerial view of Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Photo Credit: FlyingDogPhotos.com / Kevin P. Coughlin

With as much urgency as precision, George Tsunis, Nassau Health Care Corp.’s new board chairman, is slicing away political hiring at Nassau University Medical Center.

And he’s not stopping at eliminating jobs he has deemed unnecessary for the public hospital’s operation.

According to sources, officials from Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office have been in the hospital building...

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With as much urgency as precision, George Tsunis, Nassau Health Care Corp.’s new board chairman, is slicing away political hiring at Nassau University Medical Center.

And he’s not stopping at eliminating jobs he has deemed unnecessary for the public hospital’s operation.

According to sources, officials from Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office have been in the hospital building over the past two weeks.

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“We have referred two matters over to the district attorney’s office and we are looking into others,” Tsunis said Wednesday, declining to comment further.

Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for Singas, said the office could neither confirm nor deny whether there had been a referral or whether the DA is investigating any NuHealth-related matter.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, had come under criticism for nominating Tsunis to chair the NuHealth board. Tsunis, a former member of Curran’s transition team, does not have hospital-related experience.

But a look at Tsunis’ resume shows he has experience relevant to running a corporate board, particularly in the financial area. One of the many boards he serves on is that of another public-benefit corporation, the Battery Park City Authority, where he chairs the investment committee.

Also, it’s not the NuHealth board chairman’s job to handle day to day operation of the hospital and related facilities. That responsibility is supposed to rest with health care professionals.

On Wednesday, Michael Martino, a spokesman for Curran, said the county executive was not notified in advance of Tsunis’ moves. But, “she is thrilled that he is taking the initiative,” he said.

For years, NuHealth has been a place where the politically connected, Republican and Democrat, could find generous-paying jobs when political winds changed. Many of the appointed jobs eliminated by Tsunis were held by Republicans.

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On Tuesday, Tsunis announced that the hospital had eliminated nine appointed positions, freeing up nearly $1.67 million in savings to be used to hire clinical workers, including nurses.

On Wednesday, Tsunis was at it again, announcing another $674,000 in job eliminations and canceled contracts, bringing total savings to more than $2.34 million.

With Tsunis’ cuts, NuHealth realized immediate savings.

That’s no small matter: Taxpayers would be responsible for paying off the bonds should NuHealth fail.

It takes guts to gut a patronage mill, to cancel contracts and — as is required by state law — refer suspected criminal conduct to the DA’s office for investigation.

All of which, for Tsunis, marks a good start toward stabilizing NuHealth — along with the services it provides hospital patients and families who rely upon its community clinics.