Broward Health interim CEO ousted over anti-kickback accusations

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Broward Health has dismissed interim CEO Pauline Grant. The board removed Ms. Grant after an independent counsel review showed potential violations of the anti-kickback statute, according to a hospital statement.

The findings of the independent investigation are being reported to the Office of the Inspector General, as per the corporate integrity agreement under which the health system operates. The agreement was put into place after the system paid the government $69.5 million in September 2015, to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by holding improper financial relationships with physicians.

Kevin Fusco, the system's current COO, was tapped to serve as the new interim CEO as the hospital continues to search for a permanent leader.

Mr. Fusco has previously stepped into the role on a temporary basis. In January 2016, he was named acting president and CEO, after then-CEO Nabil El Sanadi, MD, was found dead in his home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Mr. Fusco was demoted in March, however, following complaints of administrative chaos that could threaten patient care and a lack of long-term physician contracts.

The board also voted to seek the services of an outside management firm until a new CEO is selected.

Ms. Grant told the Sun-Sentinel that the allegations involved potential kickbacks from a physician who wanted to be included in an on-call schedule in 2015, when she was CEO of Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based Broward Health North. The allegation stated that the hospital, and not Ms. Grant, profited from the kickbacks. She said that the allegations were false.

Board members remained tight-lipped about the details of the charges and allegations. Four of the five board members voted to remove Ms. Grant, while one voted against the action.

"Transparency, integrity and compliance with the law are our highest priority. The board remains committed to achieving these goals," said Rocky Rodriguez, chairman of the board. "The board is confident Broward Health is on a clear path to a stronger future, acting with the highest standards of integrity while being the trusted provider of high-quality care in our community."  
 
In October 2016, Broward Health interviewed three finalists for the permanent CEO role. But it suspended its search indefinitely later in the same month after a report, prepared by the law firm Baker Donelson, revealed numerous issues at Broward Health, including blame-shifting over failure to fix issues related to the system's 2015 settlement with the government.

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