And you thought the CEO of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital had actually retired!

Now that hospitals must abide by new transparency rules that took effect Jan. 1, we are able to access information that, in the past, was kept a closely guarded secret by hospitals, including St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital.

STEGH CEO and President Paul Collins

That includes two contracts dealing with the retirement/rehiring of CEO Paul Collins. City Scope has obtained the initial contract undertaken in June, 2010 when the sweetheart deal between the board of directors and Collins was first consummated, and the contract extension inked in October of 2011. The documents lay bare the dubious manner in which the retirement/rehiring was orchestrated and the secrecy that followed until City Scope uncovered the deal at this time last year.

It was only then that Collins and board chairman Bruce Babcock had the courtesy to announce what had transpired the previous June to hospital staff.

Here are some of the highlights:

In fact, Collins did not retire in June of 2010. He tendered his resignation on June 30 of that year and was re-hired the following day.

Specifically, the agreement states Collins “agrees to resign from his employment.”

And then, “The employer agrees to re-employ the Executive as President and Chief Executive as of July 1,2010.”

The whole premise of retirement is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover what is clearly a case of double-dipping. After resigning, Collins returned with his full salary of $205,269 plus his pension.

In addition the hospital was willing to contribute to “an alternative retirement scheme,” the specific details of which would be determined jointly by Collins and the hospital.”

Collins instead chose not to invoke the specific clauses dealing with retirement scheme.

The retirement smokescreen is reinforced in the preamble to the five-year contract extension signed Oct. 12, 2011 which states it puts in place “an agreement that will take the Executive (Collins) through to his retirement from his employment with the employer (in 2016).

So you see the retirement strategy is nothing more than a ruse to benefit Collins and not the hospital.

As to Babcock’s assertion to the Times-Journal at that time, “I have no idea what it (salary) will be in 2016 right now,” Collins’ base salary structure is clearly outlined in a table included in the contract extension,

In reality, Collins could earn a maximum of $321,950 in his final year before retirement in 2016.

As to a severance package, Collins would be entitled to two years’ compensation at the time of termination.

Now you see why Babcock and the board of directors were so anxious to keep this sweetheart package out of sight and out of mind.

In the coming weeks City Scope will delve into the expenses incurred by Collins and the board of directors over the past several years, which lays bare the sense of entitlement that exists in the STEGH ivory tower.

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