On May 19, 2011, I filed a complaint about SUNY Upstate’s Institute for Human Performance with the NYS Office of the Inspector General. It assigned the case number NYSIG #0393-032-2011 and referred it to SUNY auditor Michael Abbot and that’s the last I heard of it.
I did not follow up in 2012 because of illness; I was referred to Hospice, endured two lengthy hospitalizations and twice was admitted to skilled nursing facilities.
In March 2013 I met with David Scarlossi, chief of staff for NYS Assemblyman Sam Roberts, and the subject of the empty Institute again came up. On my way home, I wheeled into the Institute again. Security has now been reduced to one bored fellow sitting in the lobby with nothing to do. Why is there any security at all? Document what he has done to justify paying for him. Why is there no work for him to do? Why is the Institute not being used? Is there anything on the research floors that is so sensitive, vulnerable or expensive that it needs locked stairwells and security guards?
The gym had two office workers, one physical therapist, one patient and a hundred unused exercise machines. A sign on the wall said call so-and-so to reserve space. When I called the person, I was told “Oh, she hasn’t worked here for years.” After thirteen years, do the machines even work? How many patients have received physical therapy in the gym in the past thirteen years? How many therapy hours have been billed?
From the lobby, I again assessed the forty windows on the top two floors. Only eight of them had lights on. The offices are “occupied” to the extent that there are books on the windowsills and file cabinets in the background but there are no people working in them. Here’s what I know: physicians at Upstate Medical Center are expected to teach students, treat patients and do research. Here’s what I think: every physician who has a research office in the Institute probably also has a clinical and/or academic office elsewhere in the hospital/university complex. The question is not whether the Institute offices have been assigned; the question is are they used? How many hours per week are the offices occupied? Does any physician spend eight hours a week there?
Two weeks ago, I called SUNY auditor Michael Abbot. He returned my call last week and reported that after receiving my complaint in 2011, he contacted Upstate Medical University and received in reply a letter from one of Upstate’s attorney’s justifying the use of the space. Abbot dropped the case without doing an on-site investigation. The SUNY auditor let SUNY Upstate investigate itself and find itself without fault. When an auditor trusts a lawyer then the auditor should be fired.
On the day of my conversation with Abbot, he sent an investigator, Nancy somebody, to do an on-site tour of the Institute guided by the attorney. Even though I was across the street the Auditor’s Office did not see fit to contact me for a citizen’s point of view, or any point of view that was contrary to SUNY’s.
I am old, sick and on Medicaid: I want the taxpayer’s money spent on patient care not empty buildings! I would guess that the taxpayers want the same thing and don’t know they’re not getting it. SUNY Upstate Medical Center’s Institute for Human Performance has cost $122 million to build, not to mention the cost of operation. Show me, dollar for dollar, what benefit the taxpayers have received for their money.