Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Daily Point

NUMC’s future now in the state’s hands

Nassau University Medical Center officials responded to the state Department of Health’s request for more information early Friday morning, with an eight-page letter that included dozens of pages of attachments. In it, they emphasized their claims that the hospital’s financial condition is better than past analyses have shown.

But it’s unclear whether the letter will meet the state Health Department’s previous requests — or whether it will be enough to stave off potential additional state actions. Officials previously have suggested that a variety of possibilities — from establishing partnerships with private hospital systems to help NUMC to installing a temporary operator to take control of the public safety net hospital system — could be under consideration.

“We’re reviewing the response and we’ll have a lot more to say in the coming days about it,” said Richard Kessel, who heads the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county’s financial control board, and is working with the state in addressing NUMC’s fiscal challenges.

NUMC and the public benefit corporation that manages it, Nassau Health Care Corp., have come under intense scrutiny in recent months, especially after NIFA’s outside consultants said it could run out of money by the end of April.

In their letter, NHCC chairman Matthew Bruderman and interim chief executive Megan Ryan argued that NUMC has improved its own finances. They noted that the hospital’s cash position at the end of April was $35 million — evidence, they said, that they’ve “extended the life of the hospital well beyond” the expectations of NIFA or its consultants.

“Where the hospital expects and deserves government support, the situation is no longer nearly as dire,” they wrote.

But NIFA officials told The Point Friday that since NUMC’s end-of-April data point, NUMC’s cash position has fallen, and is now just above $19 million, with a payroll due next week.

NUMC spent much of its letter attempting to respond to the state Department of Health’s specific requests, as outlined in a state letter sent last month. State officials had previously said any additional state funding would be predicated on NUMC providing new, detailed information and agreeing to additional oversight.

Among the attachments NUMC included in its letter was an updated gross compensation chart of its top 20 earners in both clinical and nonclinical areas, as requested by the Health Department. The hospital has long had many of the highest-paid employees in state and local government. But in its latest chart, NUMC's top earner is a physician in the Department of Neurosurgery who earned $2,140,746. All top 20 clinical staff earned above $480,000.

Of nonclinical staff, the top four earners took home more than $400,000, with chief medical officer Grace Ting at the top of the list, earning $851,507. In their letter, Ryan and Bruderman noted that those totals included salary, bonuses, incentives and other forms of compensation.

“We understand that we are stewards of public funds, and the new leadership has already evaluated and amended compensation plans …” they wrote. But they did not explain what exactly they have changed.

There are several other issues where it seems NUMC may not have met the Health Department’s requests. Among the items the state sought in its letter last month was “a commitment to a comprehensive external search” for a new chief executive, including “a documented and detailed plan for executing that search.” NUMC’s response included four sentences about the CEO search, saying the hospital “is committed to a comprehensive external search for its next CEO” and noting that it has hired a search firm called Korn Ferry.

“Korn Ferry is trying to find qualified candidates, despite the challenges of negative press surrounding the hospital and narratives of its immediate closure,” Bruderman and Ryan wrote.

Ryan and Bruderman spent half of their letter targeting NIFA itself, arguing at length that NIFA’s enabling legislation did not give it the authority to have approval over NUMC management hires and appointments — which was one of the state’s requirements for the hospital to receive additional state funding.

On that, Kessel pushed back.

“I’m a little put off by their focus on NIFA’s ability to help monitor NUMC,” Kessel said Friday. “What are they afraid of?”

— Randi F. Marshall

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Final Point

Join the discussion on Long Island’s stormy future

Flooding closed Dune Road, between Quogue and Hamptons Bays, after a...

Flooding closed Dune Road, between Quogue and Hamptons Bays, after a recent storm. Credit: John Roca

Already online and in print Sunday is Newsday’s special report about rising sea levels and the more powerful storms threatening Long Island.

The challenging questions of how we prioritize and fund necessary infrastructure changes, regulate the insurance industry and fortify our coastline explored in our documentary will be pressing governmental and political issues.

Scroll through this interactive map to see how Long Island will be impacted and let us know your concerns here.

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