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Leading Change is Tough from the Back of a Limo

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, February 10, 2012

The fact that former CEO Rajiv Garg rode around in a limo is by far the least troubling information. In fact, after checking out the various conflicts of interests revolving around the former CEO and several former board members, you're more amazed than amused. You wonder why it took a state advisory panel's recommendation that Wyckoff, part of a group of financially struggling Brooklyn hospitals, merge and restructure, for all of the scandalous news to start coming out.

As in many provocative stories that involve misdeeds at the highest level, the activity was pretty blatant. In fact, this episode is so conflict-riddled, and possibly criminal, that you start to wonder who wasn't involved. Let's hear a round of applause for a group of about 100 doctors at the hospital who worked to challenge Garg and the board's leadership last winter. Unfortunately, they were largely ignored until they paid a visit to the district attorney.

Nearly a year later, it turns out that not only was the former CEO riding around town in a stretch limo, but he was having the hospital pay outstanding bills for consulting services ordered by him, and now no one can figure out the projects that the consultants worked on. Also, several former trustees had cozy business relationships with the former CEO or hospital entities and are now under investigation from the local district attorney's office.

Amid all the jokes, let's not lose sight of what's serious and important about this sort of abdication of leadership at the top level of an organization. Fraud, by its nature, is difficult to discover. But wouldn't it have been better if the CEO had been ousted and the board culled a year ago?

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