Richard Turan announced last week that he was stepping down after 31/2 tumultuous years as president and chief executive officer at the quasi-public Nassau Health Care Corp. in suburban East Meadow, N.Y.
Noting that he had agreed to stay three years when he came on board in December 2000, Turan said it was in his, his family's and the corporation's best interest that he leave. The corporation includes 481-bed Nassau University Medical Center, seven community health centers and an extended-care facility.
Turan's resignation was effective June 4 and the corporation's board of directors is searching for an interim CEO, said Lawrence Gottlieb, chairman of the board. The county executive, Thomas Suozzi, has veto power over the appointment of Turan's successor.
Turan's decision arrives barely two months after he and six other executives at Nassau settled charges with a state ethics commission that they took illegal gifts and reimbursements from information system vendors during a contract-bidding process (March 29, p. 14). At the time, Turan said the gifts represented unintentional "technical violations" that were considered standard business practice in the private sector and charged that the commission was on a "witch hunt."
Turan took over the trouble-plagued facility a year after it had converted from a county-owned public hospital to a public benefit corporation, which enjoys some degree of independence from the vagaries of local politics.
But in the years since, the hospital has struggled to gain solid financial footing, cutting nearly 400 jobs since January 2002. This year the hospital would likely have shown a profit-"a remarkable turnaround," Turan said in a news release-if not for sky-rocketing state pension costs.
The corporation paid $1.5 million in pension costs in 2002, $10 million in 2003 and will pay $27 million this year, said Shelley Lotenberg, a Nassau spokeswoman. As a result, Nassau is expected to lose $15 million on revenue of approximately $500 million this year, she said.
In an interview prior to his announcement, Turan said the corporation has successfully cut its deficit each year under his leadership. In 2001, the corporation lost $42 million. That loss was whittled to $17 million in 2002 and $14.5 million in 2003. At the same time, revenue increased $16 million in 2002 and another $20 million in 2003, he said. "We think we've had some real financial success," he said.
Previously, Turan was the owner of Briarcliffe College in Bethpage, N.Y.