Sept. 5, 2008 — The V.I. Hospitals and Health Facilities Corp. joint board of directors voted Friday to fire Amos Carty Jr. and Peter Najawicz, two top executives of Schneider Regional Medical Center implicated in alleged financial mismanagement.
The former chief operating officer and chief financial officer, respectively, had been on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation into the findings of a recent joint local and federal audit.
The decision was made during executive session. Financial reasons were a major factor.
"It was asked: Why put them on paid leave and pay another director to replace them if the contract says they may be dismissed at the pleasure of the board," chairman Carmelo Rivera said after the meeting.
The joint board is composed of some members of both the St. Croix district governing board and the St. Thomas-St. John District governing board. The joint board is acting on behalf of the St. Thomas-St. John board until replacements are nominated and approved for four members of the St. Thomas-St. John board who were asked to resign.
The Schneider board does not have a quorum until then.
The board also voted to direct both hospitals to cease all payments to employees who have side contracts on top of their official government salaries; paying only the government salary until such a time as the board can determine whether the contracts are legitimate, were approved by the board and should be paid.
The move comes in the wake of a government audit which showed that the medical center's execs — Rodney Miller Sr., Carty and Najawicz — were paid hundreds of thousands more than what was outlined in their employee contracts. (See "Audit Claims Widespread Abuse of Schneider Hospital Funds.")
Miller resigned his position as CEO of Schneider in September of 2007. Miller allegedly racked up close to $3.8 million in salary and associated perks throughout his five years at the helm of the hospital, according to the audit. He was arrested in August for fraud.
The board also set a salary of $150,000 for interim Schneider CEO Elizabeth Harris and $95,000 for interim CFO Eugene E. Welch, along with use of a car and a company cell phone.
Officials from Schneider and from St. Croix's Juan F. Luis Hospital reported on their financial situation, which is much the same as during recent budget hearings. The St. Croix hospital's finances are stretched thin by its V.I. Water and Power Authority bills and $41 million in annual unpaid-for patient care; Schneider also needs funds for unpaid patient care and facilities maintenance and upgrades.
Luis CEO Gregory Calliste reported the hospital's V.I. Cardiac Center is nearing completion. Construction should be complete by the end of September, he said, and a ribbon cutting is scheduled for Oct. 24. The total cost will be $24 million, of which $22.5 million has been expended so far, Calliste said.
Board members present during Friday's meeting were Rivera, Property and Procurement Commissioner Lynn Millin-Maduro, Finance Commissioner Claudette Watson-Anderson, Wallace Phaire, Michelle Berkley, Frances M. Molly, Aldria Harley Wade, Imelda Dizon and Health Commissioner Vivian I. Ebbesen-Fludd. Absent were: Faustina S. Richardson and Dr. Murli Daswani.
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