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Probe: Ohio Valley General Hospital chief Provenzano stole baby formula

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By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
 

An internal investigation at Ohio Valley General Hospital concluded that longtime chief executive William F. Provenzano arranged for infant formula intended for newborn patients to be shipped to a daughter in Colorado, court documents show.

The results of the probe are included in the filings in a 3-year-old lawsuit filed by Provenzano, 64, of Bell Acres, whose accelerated retirement was announced last week by the hospital.

In the lawsuit, Provenzano claims officials of a health care consulting firm falsely accused him of stealing infant formula from the hospital. The false accusations, Provenzano has charged, were made to Ohio Valley's board and in phone calls "to people in the community, including former hospital employees."

"Mr. Provenzano has never stolen baby formula from the hospital," his lawsuit states.

Attorneys for the consulting firm, Quorum Health Resources, and four of its executives responded with details of the internal investigation, which they said was triggered by an anonymous complaint.

"Upon completion of its investigation, Quorum determined that Provenzano took baby formula intended for new mothers who gave birth at OVGH and provided it to his daughter," the court filing states.

The filing states that Provenzano's daughter, who lives in Colorado, did not give birth at Ohio Valley and "Provenzano did not have permission to take the baby formula."

She could not be reached for comment.

Court records do not disclose how much infant formula was taken or for what purpose.

In his response, Provenzano's lawyers denied the allegations but said that Provenzano did not need permission to take baby formula. Provenzano had offered to pay Ross Laboratories for the baby formula, but the company refused to accept payment.

Officials of Ross, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories and the makers of Similac, did not respond to a request for comment.

Provenzano's attorney, Manning J. O'Connor, declined to comment. Quorum's attorney, Anthony J. Williott, also declined comment.

Last week, hospital officials disclosed that Provenzano would be stepping down at the end of this month as president, but that he would remain a hospital employee until the end of 2011, his original retirement date.

Hospital board officials said the accelerated retirement was initiated by Provenzano for personal reasons. They denied the retirement was in any way related to the ongoing litigation.

The retirement announcement followed disclosure that Provenzano's son and daughter-in-law were on the hospital payroll. Dr. David A. Provenzano earned $613,781, and his wife, Dr. Dana Dellapiazzo, earned $130,525, according to tax returns for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, which were just made public.

William Provenzano's salary was $530,010.

Provenzano's lawsuit against Quorum charges that the false accusations made in late 2006 and early 2007 damaged him professionally and financially, including the loss of stock options in Quorum.

According to court filings, Provenzano was brought in to run the hospital in 1986 by Quorum and remained a Quorum employee for more than two decades while serving as hospital president. But Quorum terminated him in 2007 after the investigation because "his conduct was a violation of Quorum's Code of Conduct."

Provenzano then became a direct employee of Ohio Valley and retained his title, according to Quorum's filings.

Quorum's lawyers contend that Provenzano suffered no losses when he was terminated because he continued to draw the same salary and was reimbursed for the value of stock options.

Provenzano, however, contends that he lost money on stock options and was forced to cash out his retirement account prematurely.

Court records show a trial date has not been set.

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