Schenectady County

Struggling neighborhood health clinic’s leader resigns

Hometown Health Centers CEO John Silva resigned from the financially struggling health care facility
2005 file photo of John Silva of Schenectady Family Health Services.
2005 file photo of John Silva of Schenectady Family Health Services.

Hometown Health Centers CEO John Silva resigned from the financially struggling health care facility on State Street, officials said. He left Wednesday, although his resignation does not take effect until October.

Hometown’s Board of Directors Wednesday appointed Angella Timothy as interim chief executive officer. Timothy, a registered nurse, served as the health center’s chief operating officer for nearly four years. A search committee is recruiting candidates for the position, said facility spokesman Joseph Gambino.

Board President the Rev. Michael Hogan said Silva made the decision to leave after discussing the proposal with the board for “some time.” Silva was not available for comment. He became CEO in 2002.

The federally qualified health center serves the community’s poor, uninsured and under-insured and is considered a vital part of the county safety net.

Hogan said Silva’s departure was not related to critical review last year of Hometown’s operations by the federal Bureau of Primary Health Care. “It is related to his desire to pursue other goals,” Hogan said.

The bureau review from last July said Hometown did not appear to be financially viable as “currently organized, structured and operated.” It also said Hometown “lacks community support, the basic operating presumption for a successful health center,” and that it “masked” its poor financial performance through the use of grants.

Gambino said a federal consultant has worked with the Hometown since then to improve its financial health. “The federal representatives have made it very clear that the health center is in no danger of closing” and that its federal grant funding is secure, he said. The government provides $1 million a year toward Hometown’s budget of approximately $5 million.

Hogan said the board regrets Silva’s departure. “He has been a rather dynamic leader,” he said.

Gambino said Silva handed in his resignation Wednesday. “Opportunities presented themselves to John and he decided now was the appropriate time to do it.”

Silva, a Democrat, remains a member of Rotterdam Town Board. Town Clerk Eunice Esposito said Silva had not resigned from the board as of Wednesday.

CRITICAL TURNAROUND

The federal government sent Silva as a consultant to Schenectady in 2001 to help the health center, then called Schenectady Family Health Services, get out of financial troubles. The center at the time was about two weeks from closing.

Within a year, Silva was leading the organization as executive director, later president and CEO. Under his tenure, Hometown improved its financial situation, even building a $5.7 million community health center at 1044 State St. in 2005. The new center replaced a dilapidated facility at 602-608 Craig St.

But it never escaped financial problems, caused in part by having to deal with a significant population of uninsured and not receiving adequate reimbursement. Silva tried to expand Hometown’s market into other areas. Hometown took over Ellis Hospital’s clinic and had a contract with Schenectady County to provide medical services to jail inmates. However, it abandoned the clinic and the jail contract in short time, after losing money on both ventures.

The federal review faulted Hometown for “pursuing other lines of business that distracted it from ensuring full use of its new facility on State Street.”

Specifically, the review called “ineffective” Hometown’s strategy of “improving its financial position through growth” and that Hometown pursued these ventures without considering its federal government loan and loan approval guarantee on its State Street facility. The federal government guaranteed 80 percent of the $5.7 million loan on the project.

Hometown also acquired the pediatric practice of Dr. Kevin Karpowicz, a noted pediatrician in the community, in 2005. Karpowicz remained with Hometown, becoming its vice president of medical services.

In November, he resigned as vice president but remained as a pediatrician on staff. A month later, he submitted his resignation from the health center, stating that Hometown’s financial problems were overshadowing patient care. The board accepted his resignation Jan. 9, the day an article appeared in The Daily Gazette in which he stated his concerns.

Karpowicz said the federal review laid out the picture pretty clearly, “and the response to it has not been consistent with what the report says.”

Gambino said Hometown had to eliminate staff, such as pediatricians, to bring the its operations in line with federal recommendations. Hometown is still following the recommendations and currently has a full complement of medical providers, including pediatricians, he said.

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