New York hospital paid 6 other employees to 'disappear' like ex-CEO

At least six other employees at Syracuse, N.Y.-based SUNY Upstate Medical University — including its former chief nursing officer — were reportedly offered paid off-campus assignments similar to the one given to the hospital's ex-CEO to make him "disappear," according to documents obtained by syracuse.com.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, syracuse.com obtained copies of off-campus agreements the hospital entered into during the past five years. Six individuals were reportedly given agreements similar to that of former hospital CEO John McCabe.

According to copies of the agreements, the six individuals kept their titles and annual salaries ranging from $106,000 to $180,000, and agreed to off-campus assignments that lasted from three to 12 months. Under the agreements, the six individuals were banned from working on hospital property, were told to quit their jobs after completing of their off-campus assignments, and were made to promise never to sue the institution and to keep their agreements secret.

One of the six individuals who received such an agreement was Katharine F. Mooney, RN, the hospital's former CNO. Ms. Mooney received an off-campus assignment in 2014 that reportedly involved her serving in an advisory capacity to Mr. McCabe "on matter related to the business of SUNY Upstate," the documents show. She was kept on the state payroll for roughly 12 months after receiving the assignment, and continued to receive her annual salary of $205,000.

All six former employees were reportedly required to file reports describing their assignments and duties. However, the university hospital did not provide syracuse.com with documents for Ms. Mooney and three other employees.

The university hospital provided syracuse.com with heavily redacted reports for two of the six employees. One of the reports was for James H. Watson, the former executive director of the university's biotech accelerator. His three-month off-campus assignment reportedly involved him telling companies that used the accelerator that his job was being eliminated.

Another report for Mary Wasilewski, a former human resources manager, showed her assignment was to provide short, biweekly reports on HR issues of her choosing.

The remaining three employees were Cynthia Dowd-Greene, a former associate vice president; Catherine North, a former nursing administrator; and Lynette Pittinger, the former clinical director of Upstate Women's Health Network.

In May, syracuse.com reported on the off-campus agreement given to former hospital CEO Mr. McCabe. He reportedly received a 14-month off-campus assignment that involved no work, but allowed him to receive $660,500 during the length of the assignment. The deal is under investigation by the offices of the New York comptroller, the state inspector general and the Onondaga County district attorney, the report states.

SUNY Upstate Medical University did not respond to syracuse.com's requests for comment.

To access the full report, click here.

Editor's note: Becker's Hospital Review reached out to SUNY Upstate Medical University for comment and will update the report as more information becomes available.

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