A Yonkers oncology practice claims that Northern Westchester Hospital Association has refused to approve several candidates for a key position as a way to get out of a contract for services.
Yonkers Radiation Medical Practice PC sued the Mount Kisco hospital and its parent company, Northwell Health Inc. of Great Neck on Oct. 8 in Westchester Supreme Court for an amount to be determined at trial.
“This case is simple,” the complaint states. The hospital manufactured a breach of contract to deprive Yonkers of “profits to be earned over the three years remaining under the agreement.”
“Northern Westchester Hospital does not comment on ongoing litigation,” Gretchen Mullin, director of marketing and public affairs, said in an email, “except to say that the hospital acted properly under its contract with the Yonkers Radiation Oncology practice and will defend the lawsuit in court.”
The dispute began after Yonkers’ chief of section for radiation oncology unexpectedly gave notice in May that he would be leaving in 90 days. The contract required Yonkers to name a new chief, subject to the hospital’s approval.
Yonkers said it immediately began looking for a replacement. It interviewed more than a dozen physicians and sent seven to the hospital for screening. Two were interviewed by hospital personnel in July, according to the complaint, but the hospital stated “that it did not want to move forward with them.”
Yonkers then began looking for a temporary replacement, pending a permanent hire. Short-term positions are common in the medical profession and are permitted under the contract, the complaint states, but the hospital maintained that temporary independent contractors are not permitted.
Yonkers presented two more candidates in August, but the hospital notified the medical practice that it was in default for failure to appoint a replacement chief of section. Yonkers was given 30 days to cure the default.
Northern Westchester twice interviewed one of Yonkers’ proposed replacements but did not approve the physician. On Oct. 1, the hospital terminated the agreement.
Northern Westchester “capriciously refused to approve any of the well-qualified candidates” presented for permanent chief of section, Yonkers claims.
It is accusing Northern Westchester and Northwell of breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealings. It is demanding unspecified damages.
Mullin said senior Northwell physicians are providing radiation oncology services at Northern Westchester Hospital, “along with a full staff, caring for patients with many of the most advanced radiation oncology treatments available.”
Yonkers Radiation is an affiliate of 21st Century Oncology Holdings, a Fort Myers, Florida company that filed a $1 billion Chapter 11 bankruptcy case last year in White Plains. Yonkers was not one of the 60 affiliates that filed for reorganization, but New York Radiation Therapy Management Services LLC, based at the same address in Yonkers, did file.
Bankruptcy Judge Robert D. Drain in White Plains approved the reorganization plan on Jan. 11.