Retired from Upstate, the hospital still paid him $600,500 in 2017
By SHERRY HALBROOK
PEF has been working to improve difficult working conditions for nurses and other health care employees it represents at SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. The core issue has been understaffing.
“The hospital’s management claims it doesn’t have enough money to hire and retain more nurses, so those on staff are forced to work overtime and many have even been denied the time to take a lunch break,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “It is telling us this, while Dr. John McCabe continues to collect $600,500 a year. That is very troubling!
“We need a thorough investigation into the management of funds at SUNY Upstate, not only in fairness to the dedicated PEF nurses who continue to serve the Syracuse community, but in the best interest of patients who come to SUNY Upstate for medical care.”
This is not the first time highly questionable financial practices at SUNY Upstate have hit the headlines. Unapproved payments to a senior vice president and hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay to a disgraced former president of the university were revealed between 2013 and 2015. During those investigations, it was discovered the university had a secret $20 million fund that came from private medical practices and was controlled by the medical school’s top executives.
According to new reports published by The Post Standard in Syracuse, McCabe was carried on the state payroll in 2017 as holding the title of “senior assistant president,” a position that McCabe said he was quietly given by SUNY Upstate in January 2017, when the hospital publicly announced his resignation as CEO. McCabe referred all questions about what he does to earn that money to SUNY. Reportedly a hospital spokesman said McCabe is a consultant.
McCabe was replaced (on an interim basis) as CEO by Steven M. Scott, who was paid $525,000 in 2017.
The Post Standard quoted McCabe’s Facebook page where he posted that he and his wife were on a cruise to St. Thomas. In response to a question posted by a friend, McCabe reportedly said it was a vacation and “work is no longer in my future.”
According to a feature story about McCabe that was published in November 2017 by 55 Plus magazine: “John McCabe has been plenty busy these days, but not in an executive’s office or an emergency room. You won’t see him crunching numbers on a spreadsheet or reaching for a scalpel. Instead, he’s more likely to be in a wood shop with chisels and carving knives. On any given afternoon, McCabe enjoys a much quieter work place filled with hand-made furniture and wooden bowls.”
The 55 Plus article further stated: “McCabe and his wife, Bonnie, enjoy travelling, most recently to Italy, Morocco and Napa Valley, Calif. But they have no interest in becoming snow birds, electing instead to enjoy all of the region’s four seasons. In the warmer months McCabe enjoys boating, golfing and riding his motorcycle, and in the snowy months he skis.
According to the article in 55 Plus, McCabe has happily adjusted to retirement from his 30 years of duties at Upstate. It quotes him as stating, ““It was hard to let it go, and it took me a long time. I still like to meet up with friends who still work there, maybe to go out for a beer. But I always tell them — ‘Look, I don’t want to meet up with you so you can complain about work,’” McCabe chuckled. “Retirement is about not spending all the time that you have left looking back.”
At PEF, leaders said the union’s members work hard to earn modest pensions and try to save enough to pay for their well earned retirements.
“Our nurses are still working hard at Upstate every day to help patients heal and recover and return to their homes and families,” Spence said. “Far too often the nurses go home to their families exhausted after working extra shifts because the hospital says it can’t afford to pay enough nurses to do the job, and because many nurses it recruits soon leave when they realize how poor the working conditions are.
“I sincerely hope the state looks into this situation and demands that Upstate put the patients and the public interests first. People should be paid fairly for the work they do, not overpaid for work they don’t do. And patient care should be the top priority of every hospital, including Upstate.”