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Some questions for L+M executives

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published April 30. 2014 4:00AM

Maybe Lawrence + Memorial President Bruce D. Cummings has a good idea in inviting some friends in for private chats to talk about what the hospital's been up to lately.

It's not that hospital executives don't appreciate all the news coverage they've gotten lately, Cummings said in his letters of invitation. Everyone likes attention, right?

But sometimes, he said, it's better to sidestep the media and "share information directly" so it won't be "misconstrued, distorted or filtered."

I didn't get an invitation to the private information sharing events scheduled for May 8 and May 28. But I have some suggestions for questions invitees might ask.

Feel free to clip them out and take them along - a crib sheet.

Taking some suggested questions from the media shouldn't ruin the intent of hospital executives speaking directly with friends, without things being distorted.

So here are a few:

Exactly how much did the lockout of union nurses last year cost?

Was it worth it?

How much community goodwill do you think the hospital lost with the lockout?

Is there a plan to repair any damage to the public perception of the community hospital?

What is it?

The hospital's 2011 tax return reports that more than a dozen executives make more than $200,000 a year. Some make more than double that. Is all that expensive management really necessary?

Do the consultants making executive pay recommendations take into account what the managers of other non-profit community organizations in this region are paid?

Why does the hospital have more than $30 million invested offshore? (This question is about investments offshore. Don't let them try to confuse you by talking about the insurance company they set up in Grand Cayman, to bypass Connecticut insurance regulations.)

What are plans for the $16 million in endowment money reported on the hospital's 2011 tax return?

What is the original source for the $70 million in assets held by the Lawrence & Memorial Corporation, which supports the hospital corporation, as reported in the non-profit's 2011 tax return?

What are the long-term plans for all that money?

Did the hospital consider the impact of removing the hospital's new office building at 194 Howard St. from New London tax rolls, when it consolidated doctors' offices there, many of which were previously housed in taxpaying offices in the city?

Was there any discussion of mitigating the $105,000 in annual tax revenue New London lost when L+M bought the Howard Street building?

Why did the hospital say no when the city's mayor made a request for a modest contribution to the city in lieu of taxes, less than 5 percent of what its real tax bill would be?

Other than general contributions to the region, such as health care for those who can't afford it, what does the hospital do specifically for the poor city where it was founded?

Is there a budget plan for the hospital to pay the millions of dollars in taxes it will owe the city if a bill now pending in the General Assembly were to pass?

So there are few suggestions, to get the chat going.

I might also propose one more:

Are you considering having these kind of frank discussions, not filtered or distorted by the media, for the general public?

This is the opinion of David Collins

d.collins@theday.com

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