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Nassau University Medical Center scrutinizes contract bids

George Tsunis, chairman of NuHealth.

George Tsunis, chairman of NuHealth. Credit: Stony Brook University

Nassau University Medical Center canceled and reissued five open bids last month due to concerns the process had been “polluted,” and has hired a former federal prosecutor to review contracting procedures, officials said.

George Stamboulidis, former chief of the Long Island Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, will review contracting and purchasing practices at Nassau Health Care Corp., which runs the East Meadow hospital and other facilities.

Stamboulidis, a private attorney in Manhattan, prosecuted the late Suffolk County Republican leader John Powell, who in 1999 was convicted by a federal jury of extorting $20,000 from a trucker. In 2000, Powell pleaded guilty to other charges in a stolen truck ring case.

George Tsunis, who in February started as chairman of NHCC, also known as NuHealth, said in the past the request for proposals process was “more than occasionally being polluted.”

Tsunis said the “integrity” of another completed RFP was “compromised” and canceled. As a result, Tsunis said officials “stopped all existing RFPs that were in process.” Hospital officials declined to identify any of the companies that bid on the RFP that was canceled. However, Tsunis said “we found a potential abuse” in the committee that selects RFPs and makes recommendations to the NuHealth board.

“The way the hospital had conducted RFPs, we thought there was potential for bias. That’s why we moved to take corrective actions,” Tsunis said.

Tsunis and NuHealth general counsel Megan Ryan said the hospital has established a five-member committee to oversee contract bidding procedures. Previously, hospital department heads who were seeking to contract for outside work had a say in selecting committee members who made bid recommendations to the hospital’s board.

The new committee includes Ryan; the hospital’s chief financial officer; the chairman of the OB-GYN department; the vice president for quality management; and the director of research and sponsored programs.

Tsunis said he believes the new committee members are “immune from potential pressure from the administration or the board.”

Tsunis said Stamboulidis’ appointment brings “competence and credibility” to the hospital’s contracting process.

“We are establishing our credibility,” said Ryan. “Everybody knows we have a bad reputation for being political, and I think it cleans it up using someone who has a nationwide reputation of being honest, forthright and doing the right thing.”

Stamboulidis declined to comment. In a statement released by the NuHealth, Stamboulidis said his firm, BakerHostetler, “has been retained to support the legal and compliance functions and enhance and optimize their protocols.”

The firm has a two-month contract not to exceed $45,000, hospital officials said.

NUMC contracting reforms:

•The hiring of George Stamboulidis, a former federal prosecutor who ran the Long Island Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, to review the hospital’s contracting process.

•Canceling all ongoing Requests-For-Proposals (RFPs) in March, and reversing one selected bid, after concerns about the integrity of the process. The RFPs were re-issued without changes.

•Creation of a 5-member committee to approve RFPs.

Source: Nassau University Medical Center

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