Ex-New York hospital CEO paid $660k to 'disappear' received no assignments to aid transition

The former CEO of Syracuse-based SUNY Upstate Medical University who entered into a confidential agreement with the hospital two years ago to resign but maintain his $660,500 salary for at least one year reportedly did not conduct any work for the institution as specified in the agreement, according to documents obtained by syracuse.com through a Freedom of Information Act request.

John McCabe, MD, who had spent 30 years at the hospital, said he wanted to return to teaching once he left the CEO role. He opted to leave the role in 2016 as the institution transitioned to a new president, stating he wanted to allow the new president, Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, the opportunity to create her own management team.

Dr. McCabe submitted his resignation letter to Dr. Laraque-Arena in November 2016. However, after doing so, he previously told syracuse.com "all communication with the president shut down," and he was referred to a SUNY lawyer. He signed the nondisclosure agreement arranged by the institution in December 2016.

As part of the agreement, Dr. McCabe was given the title of "senior assistant" to Dr. Laraque-Arena and was allowed to keep his CEO salary for slightly more than one year. In exchange, Dr. McCabe agreed to resign as CEO and quit the institution's faculty and medical staff. He completed his tenure as senior assistant in March.

In a prepared statement to syracuse.com, SUNY said Dr. McCabe's role was to ensure a smooth transition of leadership at the hospital, and that he would provide a broad range of administrative services to the president, among other responsibilities.

However, monthly reports and monthly attendance reports filed by Dr. McCabe during his tenure as senior assistant and obtained by syracuse.com through a FOIA request show Dr. McCabe never received any assignments to conduct work for SUNY. Instead, many of the reports mention "journal reading, meeting with colleagues, web-based activities [and] networking with personal and professional contacts," according to the report.

Dr. McCabe also noted in his reports he received certification in basic life support and attended professional meetings. His attendance reports do not indicate how many days or hours he worked, syracuse.com reports.

Dr. McCabe declined to confirm to syracuse.com whether SUNY gave him any assignments to conduct during his time as senior assistant, and noted the confidential agreement prohibits him from discussing the details of his work.

"My time, expertise, and extensive knowledge of Upstate were always fully available to the president throughout this time," Dr. McCabe told syracuse.com. "The exact use of my time, expertise, and knowledge, and the rationale for such use, are questions that should be directed to the Upstate president."

Dr. McCabe claimed he asked SUNY to waive the nondisclosure agreement after syracuse.com's previous report was published in May, but the institution reportedly denied his request.

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