The letter from the state health commissioner to the hospital says it wants the search for a new chairman of Nassau University Medical Center to begin immediately. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports.  Credit: Photo Credit: Rick Kopstein; Newsday Staff

Nassau University Medical Center must immediately conduct a professional and public search for its next CEO and create a detailed plan for reducing operating deficits in order to get $83 million in emergency state funding to stay open, the state's top health official said. 

In a March 1 letter to hospital leaders, state Health Commissioner James McDonald pointed to “a distinct lack of transparency and clear communications” between the Nassau Health Care Corporation, which runs the hospital, and state Health Department officials. 

“This is particularly concerning considering the now apparent long-term financial decline of NHCC, its current cash position, and its outstanding request for State funding,” McDonald wrote. “It is unclear to the Department why systemic financial difficulties were not identified and communicated sooner, or whether internal processes to improve these financial problems have been established.”

State intervention comes as the financial picture is becoming more dire at the county's “safety net” hospital, located in East Meadow. After decades of fiscal challenges, the hospital could run out of money by late April, according to a report released last month by consultants for the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state board that controls both NHCC and county finances.

The county backs more than $100 million in borrowing and would be responsible for the debt if the hospital system were to shut down. 

McDonald's letter, addressed to Matthew Bruderman, NHCC chairman, and Megan Ryan, the hospital's interim president and CEO, requires the health system within 30 days to submit a five-year transformation plan that demonstrates how the hospital will improve operations and decrease operating losses. The hospital also must provide “monthly written progress reports towards achieving the goals laid out in the transformation plan.”

The state asked for information such as an organizational chart identifying its corporate structure, 2023 gross compensation for the 20 highest-paid medical and nonmedical staffers and costs associated with consultant or lobbying efforts for 2023.

The state Health Department also is requiring NUMC management to get NIFA approval for hires and personnel appointments and contracts totaling more than $10 million. The health system also must report its cash position and all other financial information to NIFA on a daily basis, along with any payments of more than $10 million, excluding payroll and utilities. 

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman on Monday did not directly answer a question about whether he would urge the hospital board to comply with McDonald's recommendations outlined in the letter.

Instead, Blakeman called out the state for a drop in funding in recent years. He called the reductions and McDonald's call for immediate leadership changes a “blatantly political, cynical and dangerous attempt by the governor of this state and the Democratic Party to destroy Nassau University Medical Center.”    

“It's very clear what their objective is: It's to close the hospital and blame my administration,” Blakeman said. 

Gordon Tepper, spokesman for Gov. Kathy Hochul, said in a statement: “NUMC is a County subsidiary, and County Executive Blakeman has a responsibility to address ongoing problems with its management and operations. The State Department of Health has made recommendations on how to address these issues, and we urge the County Executive to review them.”

Ryan said Bruderman “has put in place a variety of new fiscal controls for NHCC,” and that “many of the recommendations” in McDonald's letter “are already in place.” 

Democrats on the Nassau County Legislature have criticized Blakeman and Republicans for appointees such as Bruderman and Ryan, who they say have mismanaged hospital finances.

Bruderman, of Centre Island, is a major Republican donor and principal of Bruderman Asset Management LLC.

Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) said Blakeman and the legislature need to make sure NUMC complies with state directives to continue to provide health care to people who are uninsured or the underinsured.

“We need to move forward to ensure that NUMC is funded appropriately, not only in the immediate future but to have sustainability into the future,” Bynoe said at a news conference in Mineola. “NUMC is critical to all of Nassau but in particular to communities that are typically underserved or find some other type of impediment to access to health care.”

Bynoe, who last year called on Bruderman to resign, said she and the legislature's Democratic caucus repeatedly have called on Blakeman and the legislature's GOP majority to address the hospital's deepening financial crisis.

The public benefit corporation that runs NUMC is a quasi-governmental agency run by officials appointed by the Nassau County executive and New York State. 

Nassau University Medical Center must immediately conduct a professional and public search for its next CEO and create a detailed plan for reducing operating deficits in order to get $83 million in emergency state funding to stay open, the state's top health official said. 

In a March 1 letter to hospital leaders, state Health Commissioner James McDonald pointed to “a distinct lack of transparency and clear communications” between the Nassau Health Care Corporation, which runs the hospital, and state Health Department officials. 

“This is particularly concerning considering the now apparent long-term financial decline of NHCC, its current cash position, and its outstanding request for State funding,” McDonald wrote. “It is unclear to the Department why systemic financial difficulties were not identified and communicated sooner, or whether internal processes to improve these financial problems have been established.”

State intervention comes as the financial picture is becoming more dire at the county's “safety net” hospital, located in East Meadow. After decades of fiscal challenges, the hospital could run out of money by late April, according to a report released last month by consultants for the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state board that controls both NHCC and county finances.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Nassau University Medical Center must immediately conduct a public search for its next CEO and create a deficit-reduction plan in order to get $83 million in emergency state funding, state Health Commissioner James McDonald said. 
  • McDonald pointed to “a distinct lack of transparency and clear communications” between Nassau Health Care Corporation, which runs the hospital, and health department officials. 
  • Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, criticized state funding reductions and branded the call for leadership changes as a “political, cynical and dangerous attempt” by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul to “destroy” NUMC.

The county backs more than $100 million in borrowing and would be responsible for the debt if the hospital system were to shut down. 

McDonald's letter, addressed to Matthew Bruderman, NHCC chairman, and Megan Ryan, the hospital's interim president and CEO, requires the health system within 30 days to submit a five-year transformation plan that demonstrates how the hospital will improve operations and decrease operating losses. The hospital also must provide “monthly written progress reports towards achieving the goals laid out in the transformation plan.”

The state asked for information such as an organizational chart identifying its corporate structure, 2023 gross compensation for the 20 highest-paid medical and nonmedical staffers and costs associated with consultant or lobbying efforts for 2023.

The state Health Department also is requiring NUMC management to get NIFA approval for hires and personnel appointments and contracts totaling more than $10 million. The health system also must report its cash position and all other financial information to NIFA on a daily basis, along with any payments of more than $10 million, excluding payroll and utilities. 

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman on Monday did not directly answer a question about whether he would urge the hospital board to comply with McDonald's recommendations outlined in the letter.

Instead, Blakeman called out the state for a drop in funding in recent years. He called the reductions and McDonald's call for immediate leadership changes a “blatantly political, cynical and dangerous attempt by the governor of this state and the Democratic Party to destroy Nassau University Medical Center.”    

“It's very clear what their objective is: It's to close the hospital and blame my administration,” Blakeman said. 

Gordon Tepper, spokesman for Gov. Kathy Hochul, said in a statement: “NUMC is a County subsidiary, and County Executive Blakeman has a responsibility to address ongoing problems with its management and operations. The State Department of Health has made recommendations on how to address these issues, and we urge the County Executive to review them.”

Ryan said Bruderman “has put in place a variety of new fiscal controls for NHCC,” and that “many of the recommendations” in McDonald's letter “are already in place.” 

Democrats on the Nassau County Legislature have criticized Blakeman and Republicans for appointees such as Bruderman and Ryan, who they say have mismanaged hospital finances.

Bruderman, of Centre Island, is a major Republican donor and principal of Bruderman Asset Management LLC.

Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) said Blakeman and the legislature need to make sure NUMC complies with state directives to continue to provide health care to people who are uninsured or the underinsured.

“We need to move forward to ensure that NUMC is funded appropriately, not only in the immediate future but to have sustainability into the future,” Bynoe said at a news conference in Mineola. “NUMC is critical to all of Nassau but in particular to communities that are typically underserved or find some other type of impediment to access to health care.”

Bynoe, who last year called on Bruderman to resign, said she and the legislature's Democratic caucus repeatedly have called on Blakeman and the legislature's GOP majority to address the hospital's deepening financial crisis.

The public benefit corporation that runs NUMC is a quasi-governmental agency run by officials appointed by the Nassau County executive and New York State. 

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