Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Laura Curran on Tuesday called the county’s public hospital “another symbol of the culture of corruption,” citing recent reports about hiring practices and withholding of public records.
Curran, a county legislator from Baldwin, stood across the street from Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. She called the hospital a “critical resource” for the county’s neediest residents, but criticized its largely Republican-shaped administration.
Curran referred to a lawsuit filed in August by the county Civil Service Commission against the Nassau Health Care Corporation, or NuHealth, the public benefit corporation that runs the hospital.
The suit alleges that NuHealth and a nonprofit with a professional employment agreement with the corporation illegally hired dozens of employees outside of rules meant to prevent political influence.
NuHealth has declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Curran also cited a two-and-a-half-year contract extension that NuHealth’s board of directors granted recently to president and chief executive Victor Politi. Newsday has reported that the board declined to make a copy of Politi’s contract, worth $368,000 annually, available to the public, and released few details about it.
“They seem to be hampered by patronage and a lack of transparency,” Curran said, noting that several employees in the administration’s legal department are current or former GOP elected officials.
Shelley Lotenberg, a NuHealth spokeswoman, didn’t directly respond to Curran’s allegations.
However, Lotenberg noted recognition for the hospital including designation as a Level 1 trauma center and awards from a national accrediting agency.
“We are very proud of serving Nassau County most vulnerable population with unprecedented success,” Lotenberg said.
The campaign of Jack Martins, the Republican nominee for county executive, criticized Curran for not previously making an issue of the hospital’s leadership.
The Martins campaign noted that Curran hasn’t raised significant objections to board appointments that have come before the legislature. Nor has she lobbied Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to reject recommendations made by GOP county leaders, the campaign said.
“Laura Curran has had a voice in county government, but until she decided to run for county executive, she chose not to use it to address the very issues she is raising in this campaign,” said Martins spokeswoman Mollie Fullington.
Curran on Tuesday also vowed to appoint directors to the NuHealth board with “expertise in finance, health systems, marketing and the other areas necessary for real leadership.”
The 15-member board includes seven members appointed by the county executive. The remaining eight are appointed by the governor — two on the recommendation of the county executive, three from the county legislative majority, one from the minority and one each from the State Senate and Assembly.
Republicans have controlled the county executive’s office and county legislature since 2010, and have appointed or recommended a majority of NuHealth’s current board.