HOBOKEN – Councilwoman Beth Mason is calling for more transparency in the Hoboken hospital sale, seeking an answer into why the former CEO of Hoboken University Medical Center received a $600,000 severance payment upon his resignation from the financially strapped hospital. The payout was approved by the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority, according to a report, but negotiated by the hospital's operator, Hudson Healthcare Inc.
Just a few weeks after former CEO Spiros Hatiras resigned from his position, the HHI filed for bankruptcy, claiming between $10 million and $50 million in estimated liabilities and assets.
“While a politically connected CEO is being rewarded, our nurses are on the brink of losing their healthcare benefits,” Mason said in an e-mail to supporters.
Mason said on Wednesday that she's not against selling the hospital, but wants more transparency in the process. She also used the letter sent to supporters to target Mayor Dawn Zimmer, her political foe, who also serves on the HMHA board.
"It is time for the Zimmer Administration and the Hospital Authority to stop operating in secrecy," Mason wrote. "The people of Hoboken deserve an open, inclusive, and transparent process."
The mayor’s office did not wish to respond to Mason’s comments.
The city is in the process of selling HUMC to a group that also owns Bayonne Medical Center, and is awaiting the Certificate of Need approval from the state commissioner of health. The City Council voted to save the failing facility in 2008 by guaranteeing $52 million in bonds for the hospital. Zimmer has advocated for selling the hospital to a private buyer to remove the city’s bond guarantee.
City spokesperson Juan Melli said on Wednesday that a local report from a daily newspaper stating taxpayers will be on the hook for $100,000 of Hatiras’ payout was incorrect. Melli said the payout will be made by the new owners and the hospital’s operator, the HHI. -- Ray Smith