Roger Williams Medical Center, a not-for profit 143-bed hospital in Providence, R.I., placed its president and chief executive officer, Robert Urciuoli, on paid administrative leave and said the hospital is under investigation from the federal government on issues related to former state Sen. John Celona.
In June, Celona pleaded guilty to charges alleging that he accepted payments from a medical center totaling $260,639 from March 1998 to January 2004 in exchange for his influence over legislative matters that affected the center. Roger Williams didn't elaborate on the investigation. In a news release, the hospital said Kenneth Belcher, who had been serving as vice president for ancillary services at Boston Medical Center, would serve as interim president and CEO.
The leave for Urciuoli was scheduled to begin Dec. 5 and Belcher's new role will be effective Dec. 12. Roger Williams' board and Urciuoli reached a mutual agreement that a change was in the best interest of the hospital, the release said. Urciuoli started working at Roger Williams in 1972 and had been serving as CEO since 1988.
The Providence Journal reported Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island also made payments to Celona that totaled $13,565, but a spokeswoman for the Blues declined to comment.
If the allegations are true, it wouldn't be the first time the Rhode Island Blues has been in the midst of controversy. In 2004, the insurer faced scrutiny from state legislators for amassing large reserves and awarding lavish perks to executives while raising premiums (May 14, 2004, p. 6). The insurer also agreed to a $17.5 million settlement without admitting wrongdoing over allegations that it wasn't informing members of discounts (Jan. 17, p. 4).
Celona's attorney, William Dimitri, declined to comment.