Friday, September 26, 2008

Mr. Brezenoff Explains

As I write, Congress and the Administration are trying to find a way out of the current financial crisis. To many an innocent bystander, it was amazing to discover that the CEO's of the most mismanaged corporations took multi-million dollar salaries. How is this relevant to LICH ? Read on.

This last Monday (Sept. 22) was a remarkable day for LICH. The public was invited to a meeting at LICH, sponsored by Community Board Six, that featured a spirited, forceful address by Stanley Brezenoff. Mr. Brezenoff is the President and CEO of Continuum Health Partners, the non-profit management organization that is responsible for the executive functions of the hospital.

Mr. Brezenoff was blunt in what he had to say: 1) LICH is in a severe financial crisis (because there aren't enough patients); it is financially moribund. 2) It is my plan to cut out obstetrics and pediatrics, because these services lose money. Those steps will revive this near-death patient. 3) This is my plan. There is no plan B. Take it or leave it.

Mr. Brezenoff's remarks and those of his questioners are well reported on the website of the (dissident) medical staff. This site, highly critical of Mr. B. and his management, needs to be consulted by anyone interested in the hospital.

I sat in the audience, taking it all in, but my thoughts were on matters that nobody mentioned, although they had, indeed, been mentioned by the dissident medical staff before: if LICH is in such dire straights, why are the executive salaries so high ? According to the Daily News, LICH's doctors want cuts in executive pay.

Like everything else, executive salaries are relative. This blog has previously reported on the salary of the recently-resigned LICH president Ms. Rita Battles (whose name, curiously, was never mentioned at this meeting), and also, for comparative purposes, the salary of Alan D. Aviles, the man who runs the city hospital system. (see my postings of November 14, 2007 and others.) In brief, while Ms. Battles was paid approximately $700,000, Mr. Aviles, responsible for a far more extensive operation, earned but $291,000.

Continuum Health Partners manages several other hospitals in addition to LICH, so Mr. Brezenoff's salary, presumably, is not paid by LICH alone. Still, it is an interesting figure. Now like all other not-for-profits, Continuum is required to report its top salaries to the IRS on form IRS990. These reports are publicly available online, for instance on the site of GuideStar.

People should more often examine these reports about the non profits that they support. In the case of Continuum, the latest report covers the year 2006. In that year, Mr. Brezenoff was paid a total of $1,442,412, or, roughly, just about five times the sum paid to Mr. Aviles, whose job, remember, is far more extensive than Mr. B's.