Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shady dealings at Long Island College Hospital

From the Daily News:

Since 1988, the vital, century-old LICH has been driven into the ground by a monolithic health system called Continuum, ruled by a former Ed Koch crony named Stanley Brezenoff, who is the Darth Vader of what Jack Newfield called the Permanent Government of New York.

In 1999, a $140 million bequest to LICH by Donald and Mildred Othmer of Brooklyn Heights apparently vanished into the Continuum ether. You can't find a bedpan in LICH paid for from that dough. Continuum, according to [medical director Dr. John] Romanelli, also sold off $50 million in LICH real estate "for which there is crazy Hollywood accounting."

"Now Continuum is asking state taxpayers to assume all the debts that they amassed," says Jeff Ruggiero, attorney for the LICH medical staff.

"And Continuum continues to act as an active parent, with Brezenoff negotiating the merger with Downstate behind closed doors, like a Tammany Hall deal," says Romanelli.

"We originally filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Health and the state attorney general in January 2008 alleging that Continuum was running an illegal operation by seizing complete control over LICH without the necessary approvals," says Ruggiero. "We had witnesses, a half-dozen doctors, some members of the LICH board, who traveled to Albany, ready to testify that Continuum was behaving as an 'active' parent rather than a 'passive' parent of LICH. Which is illegal. DOH never called a single witness."

Instead DOH gave Continuum a pass.

This is because nobody works the bureaucracy better than Brezenoff, the quintessential political "fixer."

Another member of the Permanent Government, state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio of Queens recently pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving $500,000 in bribes via the MediSys Health Network - that had a murky relationship with Jamaica Hospital, not unlike Continuum's with LICH - to influence DOH officials to approve Jamaica Hospital's takeover of Mary Immaculate Hospital.

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District's sentencing memo, and the FBI wiretap transcripts of Seminerio, offer a disturbing MRI of how deeply political corruption is encoded in the DNA of the Permanent Government and the health care system of New York. On these tapes, Seminerio talks to or mentions various DOH officials, pols and players like Joe Bruno, Shelly Silver, convicted ex-Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin and, of course, Stanley Brezenoff.

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