Memorial Sloan Kettering paid $1.4 million in severance in 2020 to three top former executives, including its longtime chief information officer, the cancer center disclosed in its latest tax form.
Some of the money went to Dr. Jose Baselga, MSK's former chief medical officer, who resigned in 2018 after failing to disclose industry ties in his research. The largest payment went to Patricia Skarulis, MSK's longtime chief information officer, who the tax form says left in 2019. Avice Meehan, the system's former chief communication officer, also got a payout.
MSK declined to say why Skarulis and Meehan left the organization, but said the payments reflect contractual obligations under employment agreements.
MSK has now paid Baselga $1.9 million in severance over three years: about $290,000 in 2019, almost $1.3 million in 2019 and almost $300,000 in 2020. Baselga failed to disclose several millions of dollars in payments he received from drug and healthcare companies in dozens of research articles.
MSK has paid Meehan, who left in May 2019, about $710,000 in severance, including about $456,000 in 2020.
Skarulis received almost $700,000 in severance in 2020. The tax form says she left in December 2019. Skarulis had been MSK's chief information officer since 2002. In that role, she oversaw computing and communications for the system's clinical and research enterprises.
Skarulis has received a number of honors for her work over the years. In 2019, Crain's New York Business named Skarulis among its Notable Women in Tech. In 2016, Health Data Management recognized her has one of the "Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT." In 2008, she was named the CHIME-HIMSS John E. Gall Jr. "CIO of the Year."
Prior to joining MSK, Skarulis worked in similar roles at Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Princeton University and Rutgers University, according to her Scottsdale Institute profile.
The payments were made during a year when the prominent New York City research institute was under significant financial strain. It lost about $417 million on $5.4 billion in operating revenue, a 7.7% loss margin. The system performed fewer elective procedures during the year because of COVID-19 shutdowns, a problem that was compounded by higher staff expenses.