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Laura Curran names new panel to help fix NUMC finances

Nassau University Medical Center emergency room entrance on

Nassau University Medical Center emergency room entrance on Friday, Mar. 27, 2020. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has launched a task force composed of community and industry leaders, aimed at helping fix the finances of Nassau University Medical Center.

The task force, called NUMC Forward, will assist a consulting firm that is expected to evaluate operations at the county's only "safety net" hospital, which is located in East Meadow.

Curran said she wanted to make sure the consultant, Alvarez & Marsal of Manhattan, hears the views of the community and labor leaders.

Curran said she was looking for a "realignment" of services at NUMC, while not sacrificing provision of critical care.

"While they're looking at the data and the finances, I also want to make sure they're hearing from the hospital workers, they're hearing from the community, they're hearing from the people on the ground who work at the hospital, and who get services from the hospital," Curran said of the consultants.

"It's important for the consultant to get that perspective as they're looking at the financials," Curan said.

Curran will chair the task force. Members include Ron Gurrieri, president of Nassau Civil Service Employees Association Local 830; Robert Detor, chairman of NuHealth, the public benefit corporation that runs NUMC; Kevin Dahill, president and CEO of the Nassau Suffolk Hospital Council; the Rev. Sedgwick Easley of the Union Baptist Church in Hempstead; Nassau County Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury); and a member of the Republican legislative caucus.

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The move by Curran reflects the increased involvement of outside overseers at NuHealth and the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale. 

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which controls county finances, took over hospital finances in February. NIFA was set to hire Alvarez & Marsal to examine NUMC operations, but the plan is on hold until the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is over, according to NIFA chairman Adam Barsky.

NuHealth also has hired Alvarez & Marsal for a three-month, $1.165 million contract to handle the corporation's application for federal reimbursement of costs of pandemic response.

Curran said the task force will take a "holistic" look at hospital operations, particularly, "how we can best use the resources that we have to put it in as strong a position as possible and continue to provide crucial care for our residents."

Curran said the “goal is to achieve a realignment of services to make NUMC more sustainable," but she said it was too soon to identify the changes.

Detor has warned of a "looming crisis" at NuHealth that has been worsened by the pandemic. NuHealth needs $57 million in outside aid to remain viable next year, Detor said. Without the aid, the health system will have only $249,000 on hand at the end of March 2021, he said.

Nassau County ended its $13 million annual subsidy to NUMC in 2014, but still backs $188 million in hospital debt.

Gurrieri, whose local represents more than 3,000 NUMC workers, called the task force, "a positive sign of the County Executive's involvement in the future of NUMC and A. Holly Patterson."

Gurrieri said he would "want to let the consultant know I'm not on this committee to give this hospital away, or to change its configuration at the detriment of the employees and the residents." 
 

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