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NuHealth chair won't discuss Gianelli resignation with NUMC doctors

NuHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Arthur Gianelli

NuHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Arthur Gianelli talking to the media at a press conference to start a campaign to help uninsured people at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. (Oct. 2, 2013). Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

The chairman of NuHealth's board of directors has rejected a request by the hospital's doctors to discuss the resignation of chief executive Arthur Gianelli.

After a meeting of about 90 doctors a week ago, the medical staff sent an email Tuesday asking the board to meet with them about keeping Gianelli as head of Nassau Health Care Corp. The public benefit corporation runs Nassau University Medical Center, A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility and five clinics that serve the poor.

Gianelli abruptly announced his resignation Nov. 8.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has said that Gianelli, appointed by then-County Executive Thomas Suozzi in 2006, was asked to resign so the county could search for new leadership.

Gianelli has said he would stay for three months. Mangano said the board would launch a nationwide search for his replacement.

NuHealth board chairman Craig Rizzo said in an email Tuesday that "the board appreciates and is certainly sensitive to the concerns of some of the medical staff." But he noted the terms of the resignation included a confidentiality agreement.

Given that, Rizzo said "it would be inappropriate and contrary . . . to engage in any public discussion" of Gianelli's resignation. Instead, he said, the board must "move on toward a smooth and orderly transition."

Rizzo declined to discuss the issue further.

NuHealth's chief medical officer, Dr. Steven Walerstein, objected to Rizzo's characterization that only "some" of the medical staff were concerned, stressing that 80 percent voted to make the request.

Mangano's earlier statement that the board had to move quickly not to renew Gianelli's contract before it was renewed automatically makes "the conditions of the resignation both public and clear," Walerstein said.

Gianelli has since announced that he will lead the transition team as an unpaid volunteer for the new North Hempstead town supervisor, Judi Bosworth. He declined to comment.

Two board members said they were unhappy with Rizzo's response.

"Art Gianelli is responsible for the turnaround [at NuHealth] and considering the changes in health care, this is the wrong time to change leadership," board member Greg Martello said. "I really think it behooves the board to listen to the medical staff."

Dr. George Miner, another board member, agreed. In an email to the board, he said, "It is my hope and expectation that the board will welcome the request . . . to discuss important issues -- such as the release of the CEO at such a critical point in the hospital's history."