The New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. was roiling last week after the firing of the top executives at two of its 11 hospitals.
Carlos Perez, network senior vice president and executive director of the publicly owned corporation's 527-bed Bellevue Hospital Center since 1997, was summarily terminated for, among other things, admitting to city investigators that he had accepted a personal loan from a vendor who does business with HHC, officials said. There was an implication that more information would be forthcoming; officials said they could not provide any further details while "an ongoing investigation" continues.
"We have no tolerance for unethical conduct at our city's public hospitals. This breach of the public trust is a disservice to our patients and the thousands of HHC employees who are dedicated, hardworking and honest," HHC Acting President Alan Aviles said in a news release.
Frank Cirillo, HHC's senior vice president of operations and chief operating officer, assumed Perez's vacant post on an interim basis. Cirillo has held several senior management positions during a 23-year career with HHC.
Meanwhile, the previous week, Aviles fired Joseph Orlando, executive director of 374-bed Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. Aviles said in a news release that he had lost confidence in Orlando after an investigation found that the hospital failed to notify some women of abnormal Pap smears. The deputy director of nursing services responsible for women's health services also was terminated and other personnel were disciplined.
Orlando, who had been in the position for nearly 10 years, will receive six month's severance under the terms of his employment contract, officials said. Unlike Perez, who was terminated for a specific reason, Orlando was terminated "without cause," they added. In coming to his decision, Aviles took Orlando's service into account "and the positive accomplishments at the hospital during this period of time," according to the news release.
Officials said the terminations were unrelated and not indicative of systemic problems. In his May report to the HHC board of directors, Aviles said, "I know that the unexpected events of the past week leave all of us at HHC shaken and saddened, but I want to state firmly and clearly that these unfortunate events are unrelated aberrations in what remains the finest public hospital system in the nation."
The lapse in notifications of abnormal Pap smears came to the system's attention after a patient complained of a delay in informing her of an abnormal Pap test. The ensuing investigation determined that 307 women might not have been informed of abnormal Pap test results because of a change in notification policy that started in December 2003, officials said.
William Walsh, HHC's senior vice president of Southern Brooklyn and Staten Island Health Network, assumed the executive director position on an interim basis. Aviles is also in his position on an interim basis. In February, he was named acting president, succeeding Benjamin Chu.