Nassau University Medical Center is bleeding money, but that did not stop its former president and chief executive, Dr. Anthony Boutin, from receiving  $650,000 for his accrued time off, according to his separation agreement. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

NuHealth, the public benefit corporation that runs Nassau University Medical Center, has agreed to pay its ousted president and chief executive, Dr. Anthony Boutin, $650,000 for his accrued time off, and give him title to his hospital-issued SUV, according to a copy of his separation agreement.

The financially struggling hospital system agreed on Jan. 30 to the payout and to transfer title to his 2023 Chevy Tahoe High Country.

Boutin also is entitled to lifetime health care benefits that other eligible employees receive, as long as NuHealth continues to offer that benefit, according to a copy of the separation agreement Newsday obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Law.

NuHealth board members ousted Boutin from his leadership job at a special board meeting on Jan. 12, and on Jan. 17 he resigned from “any and all positions" at the hospital. Hospital officials declined at the time to disclose Boutin's severance.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • NuHealth has agreed to pay its ousted president and chief executive Dr. Anthony Boutin $650,000 for accrued time off.
  • The financially struggling hospital system also agreed to transfer ownership of Boutin's hospital-issued 2023 Chevy Tahoe High Country to him.
  • NuHealth board members ousted Boutin from his leadership job on Jan. 12, and on Jan. 17 he resigned from “any and all positions" at the hospital.

After removing Boutin, board members appointed Megan Ryan, the hospital's general counsel, as NuHealth interim president and CEO. Ryan also serves as NuHealth's chief legal officer and draws an annual salary of $450,000.

Boutin, who became the hospital's leader in January 2020, was one of the highest earners in state and local government. He had worked for NuHealth since 2007 and made $845,446 in total salary in 2023, according to records from the hospital and the state Comptroller's Office.

Boutin's ouster followed other tumultuous departures of NUMC CEOs and touched off concern about the future of the cash-strapped hospital system.

NuHealth is Nassau's only public hospital system and operates NUMC in East Meadow and the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale.

NuHealth treats a predominantly low-income and uninsured population, and has struggled with persistent operating deficits. Its 2022 deficit was $164 million. In February, auditors hired by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state board that controls NuHealth and Nassau County finances, said NuHealth could run out of cash late this month.

NuHealth officials said the settlement with Boutin was in the health system's best interest.

“Dr. Boutin served at NUMC for more than 20 years and was legally entitled to the distribution," NuHealth chairman Matthew Bruderman said in a statement. “While we cannot discuss the details of negotiations surrounding the dollar figure, they ultimately resulted in a cost savings to the institution. We thank Dr. Boutin for his many years of dedication to the medical center during challenging times."

Richard Hamburger, Boutin's attorney, told Newsday in an email: “Dr. Boutin is exploring opportunities to apply his more than 30 years of clinical experience as an emergency medicine physician in New York to support other underserved communities in the United States." 

Boutin, 58, of Elmont, agreed not to sue NuHealth, according to the settlement. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A variety of Long Island municipalities have struggled with high payouts to employees who left government after many years of service. From 2012 to 2022, Nassau and Suffolk counties paid more than more than $830 million to departing employees for their accrued sick and vacation time, Newsday reported last year.

“Unfortunately outsized payouts at retirement or separation are part of the life cycle of the Nassau County employee,” Ken Girardin, a research director at the Empire Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit think thank in Albany that promotes free-market principles, told Newsday. “Long Island seems to be the epicenter for this problem."

Girardin continued: “Whenever you defer compensation like this, it means you are not incurring the full cost of employment while the person is performing the services. These payouts allow people to accrue paid time off over years or even decades, and then get paid as if all of them were at their final and often highest rate of pay.”

Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit think tank, said physicians are able to attract high salaries because they have such specialized skills.

“They're in a position to get that sort of payout," Baker said of Boutin's settlement. The job market will, “end up with a relatively narrow pool who do qualify for those positions and the ones that are there can largely set their own terms."

NuHealth employs some of the highest earners in state and local government, according to the state Comptroller's Office. Its retirees also collect some of the highest pensions in the state system, according to a report in January by the Empire Center.

Local governments have tried to rein in payout expenses, but cash-outs of unused time often are set out in union contracts.

In 2022, 36 NuHealth employees each earned more than $400,000 in total salary.

At NUMC, dozens of physicians and administrators also earned a total of more than $13 million in extra compensation through NuHealth's Faculty Practice Plan, which taps a pool of hospital revenues that doctors can access for treating patients and performing health care procedures.

Boutin made $824,632 in 2022, with a base salary of $580,000 and nearly $245,000 in extra compensation, payroll records show. In 2021, Boutin earned $791,060, including $210,000 from the Faculty Practice Plan.

Boutin also worked as a NUMC emergency room physician and the hospital's chief medical officer while serving as president and CEO.

As head of the hospital system, Boutin helped steer it through the COVID-19 pandemic. Boutin advocated for the opening of a cardiac catheterization lab capable of treating coronary blockages. The laboratory is expected to open in January.

Dr. Anthony Boutin, former chief executive and president of NuHealth:

Total compensation:

2023: $845,446

2022: $824,632

2021: $791,060

Source: NuHealth payroll records

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