Fight rages over Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's pick to lead NUMC

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Fight rages over Nassau County executive's pick to lead NUMC
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Controversy is raging over Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's pick to head up financially-troubled Nassau University Medical Center. Kristin Thorne has more.

EAST MEADOW, Long Island (WABC) -- Controversy is raging over Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's pick to head up financially-troubled Nassau University Medical Center.

Matthew Bruderman is a millionaire investor and entrepreneur, and -- according to Democrats-- was the top Republican donor to Blakeman's political campaign.

"I needed someone of his stature," Blakeman said. "Someone who didn't come from a political machine, who had no business interest with the hospital, somebody that was completely independent."

NUMC, a 530-bed public health hospital, has been plagued for years by financial mismanagement, millions of dollars in debt, and a revolving door of chief executives and leadership.

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The hospital primarily serves Medicare and Medicaid patients and has a Level 1 Trauma Center and certified Burn Center.

"We can turn this center around, but it starts at the top," Blakeman said.

Bruderman told hospital staff at a press conference on Monday that he doesn't care what people say about him.

"I'm doing this for everyone here," he said to an applauding crowd of nurses and doctors outside NUMC.

Under state law, Blakeman is allowed to make the appointment for the Chairman of the hospital. In fact, Bruderman will replace the person appointed to chairman by former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Democrats in Albany have proposed legislation that would, for the first time, allow the New York governor to make two direct picks to the board of NUMC, including appointing the chairman.

"Our proposal seeks to facilitate the appointment of competent, qualified individuals who will professionalize and depoliticize the operations of this hospital so that it can thrive, not just survive," said New York State Senator Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), who introduced the bill.

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The bill would also expand the number of recommendations the majority leader in the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly - both Democrats - can make to the NUMC board. They will each get two additional recommendations for a total of three each.

"Saving NUMC won't be possible without county and state leaders working together," Thomas said. "We cannot risk losing years of progress at NUMC to the same cronyism and corruption that ran rampant during the Mangano era."

If the bill passes, the majority of the recommendations for the board will still be from the Nassau County legislature, according to Thomas.

Bruderman said if he's allowed to take the position as chairperson of the hospital without any more challenges, he will donate $1.5 million of his own money to the hospital.

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