Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, R.I., placed its president and chief executive officer, Robert Urciuoli, on paid administrative leave as of Dec. 5 and said the hospital was being investigated by the federal government in connection with the activities of former state Sen. John Celona. Celona pleaded guilty in June to charges that he accepted more than $260,000 in payments from the hospital from March 1998 to January 2004 in return for his influence on legislative matters. The hospital said Kenneth Belcher, vice president for ancillary services at Boston Medical Center, will serve as interim president and CEO starting Dec. 12. The government appears to be investigating Urciuoli and a former hospital vice president as well as the hospital, and the focus seems to be a consulting contract, said William Devereaux, a lawyer for the hospital. The contract, which was approved by the Rhode Island Ethics Committee, set up consulting services by Celona with an assisted-living facility in which Roger Williams had an ownership stake, but it also appears Celona did some work for the hospital, Devereaux said. He said the hospital didn't realize any material benefit from Celona's work and that seeking the ethics committee's approval was a sign the hospital's actions weren't improper. -- by Joseph Mantone
R.I. hospital under investigation, puts CEO on leave
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