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Waste of the Day: Almost Bankrupt New York Hospital Paid Four Retired Doctors $8.9 Million

February 16, 2024

Topline: Nassau University Medical Center on Long Island, New York is in danger of going bankrupt, but that didn’t stop it from doling out pensions that rank among the highest in New York state.

Four retired doctors each earned over $2 million in pensions since 2017, according to OpenTheBooks.com.

Key facts: Four of the top 10 pension earners among New York state employees worked at the public NUMC last year, according to a Newsday report using data from SeeThroughNY.

Auditors at OpenTheBooks analyzed NUMC’s spending records and found that the pensions are indicative of a much larger payroll spree for those four employees.

Open the Books
Waste of the Day 2.16.24

The four doctors took home a total of $8.9 million of taxpayer money in the last seven years. Only $2.4 million of that money came from actual salaries; the rest came from pensions after the doctors retired. The four doctors collectively put in just five years of work since 2017.

Surgeon Richard Batista took home a $340,000 pension last year, more than anyone else at the hospital and second-highest in New York, per SeeThroughNY. While he was employed, Batista’s salary maxed out at $531,000 in 2017. He began collecting his pension in 2021, raising his total earnings to just over $2.4 million in a seven-year span, OpenTheBooks found.

Paul E. Scott, a wound care specialist, retired in 2017 while making a salary of $570,000. With his annual pension, he also earned $2.3 million in seven years.

The remaining two employees — surgeon Leonard Barrett and OB-GYN Elsie Santana-Fox — took home $2.1 million and $1.9 million in the last seven years, respectively. Barrett’s earnings came entirely from a pension that reached up to $321,000 annually.

Background: NUMC is in danger of closing because of financial struggles. But OpenTheBooks found that NUMC still had 99 employees making more than New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s salary of $250,000 in 2022. Five employees made more than $400,000, contributing to the hospital’s $216 million payroll.

NUMC operated at a deficit of $180 million last year, per Newsday.

Critical quote: “We are now in the window of time in which experts have warned that the Corporation may become insolvent and cease to operate,” Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe wrote in an open letter to the hospital’s chairman. “Yet, the Legislature and the public remain in the dark as to whether NUMC’s doors will remain open into this New Year. Outside auditors have warned for five consecutive years that the collapse of the Nassau Health Care Corporation … is a real possibility.”

Summary: If NUMC wants to avoid shutting its doors, perhaps reducing its $8.9 million payouts to four retired doctors is a good place to start.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
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