Secret vote to oust New York hospital CEO unlawful, expert says

A vote to fire the interim CEO of Massena (N.Y.) Memorial Hospital violated the state's regulations on open meetings, an expert told the Watertown Daily Times.

During a closed door meeting March 25, the hospital's board of managers voted to terminate Charles Gijanto's contract. Mr. Gijanto's interim CEO contract at Ogdensburg, N.Y.-based Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center was terminated as well. He was serving as interim leader of both hospitals, becoming interim CEO at Claxton-Hepburn in May 2018 and interim CEO at Massena Memorial in August 2018.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, told the Watertown Daily Times, "There is a provision that any time a vote is taken, a record shall be maintained and it will indicate how each member voted."

However, members of the public and the Watertown Daily Times objected when Board of Managers Chairperson Loretta Perez said the vote would be written secretly on paper, according to the report.

The vote to remove Mr. Gijanto came in the midst of a heated public meeting, where hospital employees confronted board members about the lack of transparency regarding its conversations with Canton-Potsdam Hospital in Potsdam, N.Y. Canton-Potsdam is one of the entities Massena Memorial is considering affiliating with in its quest to privatize. Six of nine voting members present voted to fire Mr. Gijanto, while two voted to keep him and one abstained from voting.

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