Thursday, May 30, 2013

Non-profit Hospital Management 101

Many thanks, Julia!  I would not have found this juicy read without your Twitter message.

Read this whole piece, everybody, and reflect on the implications of "non-profit."  
Hint: it has to do with taxes. 

Hospital Caring for an Heiress Pressed Her to Give Lavishly
By Anemona Hartocollis
Published: May 29, 2013

For the last 20 years of her life, Huguette Clark, a wealthy and reclusive copper heiress, lived in a Manhattan hospital room, shades drawn, door closed. She played with dolls, watched cartoons and followed the Bush v. Gore hanging chad debacle. (She favored Gore.) 
Mrs. Clark, seen in 1930, lived the last two decades of her life at Beth Israel Medical Center and gave it $4 million.

Distant relatives of Mrs. Clark have accused the hospital, including its chief executive, of coercing her into her donations.

Within months of her arrival, the hospital, Beth Israel Medical Center, went after her for an all-out fund-raising campaign. They researched her family history, had officials visit her often in her room and plied her with gifts. The effort, described in court documents, quickly extended to the hospital’s chief executive and even his mother, who watched the Smurfs with Mrs. Clark and talked to her about making a will. After Mrs. Clark donated a Manet to Beth Israel, but it sold for less than expected, the chief executive wrote an e-mail joking that Mrs. Clark “didn’t take the bait and offer a half dozen more.” 
That note from July 6, 2001, was among scores of hospital documents filed on Wednesday in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court as part of a battle over Mrs. Clark’s $300 million estate with her distant relatives. She died in 2011 at age 104. 
The case is scheduled for trial in September, but until then, the documents provide a rare look at the inner workings of a nonprofit hospital’s fund-raising operation — one that, as the relatives see it, coerced a woman who did not need constant medical care to give it a piece of her large fortune. In one of the e-mails, which were turned over to the relatives’ lawyer under a judge’s direction, a hospital fund-raising employee wondered whether Beth Israel’s legal department would approve of Mrs. Clark’s residency there. 
Admitted in 1991, Mrs. Clark ended up staying until her death, giving the hospital at least $4 million in donations, not counting millions more she paid just to live there and a $1 million bequest in her final, contested will, according to court papers. 
“What this is about is not just a will contest, it’s about the accountability of professionals,” John Morken, the lawyer for the relatives, 20 grand and great-grand half-nieces and half-nephews, said.

As an exercise in self-discipline I am not making any sarcastic comments here. JB


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