Three New York City hospital executives have left their leadership roles a month after a patient died in the emergency department of their facility from a misdiagnosed ailment.
NYC Health & Hospitals (HHC) is moving Coney Island Hospital's acting Executive Director Robert Hughes and Medical Director Dr. John Maese into other roles in the system, while the hospital's Chief Nursing Officer Terry Mancher, has announced her retirement.
The moves come after a patient died, allegedly of undiagnosed meningitis, on Feb. 1 in Coney Island Hospital's emergency department. The New York City Medical Examiner's office Friday confirmed it is investigating the death of 47-year-old Grisel Soto.
According to published reports, nursing staff at Coney Island misdiagnosed the condition that led to Soto's ED visit as an overdose of synthetic marijuana. The office said Soto's autopsy results are not yet complete.
HHC spokesman Ian Michaels denied that the leadership changes at the hospital were related to an individual incident. They refuse to comment on any patient's case.
“There have been numerous leadership changes throughout NYC Health + Hospitals in the past year as the public health care system reorganizes,” Michaels said in an emailed statement.
The New York Post cited an anonymous source who claimed Soto's death had prompted HHC to review the hospital's operations and found that Coney Island had hired 450 additional staffers, most of them nurses, without prior authorization from the system.
Michaels said there had been no “unauthorized hires,” but would not respond to questions about whether the hires had been made at all, or if the 11-hospital system was specifically scrutinizing Coney Island.
The hospital reportedly has a $65 million deficit. HHC as a whole has been struggling. The public system reported $420 million in losses the first six months of fiscal 2016, which began last July.
The Post reported sources saying that Coney Island Hospital is also plagued with insect infestations and patient overcrowding.
The 371-bed hospital has struggled to meet nearly every quality measure monitored by federal health officials in recent years. For example, the facility was financially penalized by Medicare in both 2015 and 2016 for having too many patients who were readmitted following a procedure. It will be levied the fourth-highest readmission penalty among 14 Brooklyn hospitals in 2016, according to the Modern Healthcare quality and safety database.
In January, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was giving the NYC Health & Hospitals system a $337 million emergency boost. The mayor's office also plans to present a restructuring plan for NYC Health & Hospitals in the spring.