Updates slow as fight over St. Clare's pension fund continues | WNYT.com

Updates slow as fight over St. Clare's pension fund continues

Emily Burkhard
Updated: February 17, 2020 11:58 PM
Created: February 17, 2020 04:29 PM

Former St. Clare's Hospital employees are yet again asking for help in finding out what happened to their pension funding.

In December they reached out to the New York State Attorney General's office for answers, but still haven't heard back.

It's been a year since 1,100 former St. Clare's employees either lost the majority of their pensions, or all of them.

"We need a resolution now. We can't afford to wait a lot longer,” St. Clare’s Pensioner’s Committee Co-Chair Mary Hartshorne said. “I'd like us to be put at the top of the list."

Hartshorne believes AG Letitia James is doing whatever she can to find out what happened to the money, but she said the stress of waiting for answers has become overwhelming for some pensioners who are facing new diagnoses.

"One person called me within the past week to say that they have a terminal illness and they don't think they're going to be alive for the resolution,” Hartshorne said. “It could be next week, they don't know that."

Last year Senator Jim Tedisco received a single page from the 400 page application to consolidate St. Clare's and Ellis Hospitals under The Berger Commission.

That document showed a $47 million contribution would be needed to keep the plan viable, a far cry from the $28 million that was actually contributed.

"Why would they make an agreement for $28 million when they knew that wouldn't protect the solvency of the lifetime of this pension system for 1,100 pensioners?” Tedisco asked. “That's the question we need answered."

So Tedisco sent the document to the AG's office. He said two months have passed and no one has responded.

"Because it's not only investigating the trustees, they're investigating the pension system or the insurance company that was involved in this, it's involving the entire beginning of this whole process and who knew what, when,” Tedisco said.

Tedisco also alleges officials with the New York State Department of Health, Dormitory Authority, St. Clare's board and Albany Roman Catholic Diocese knew the pension plan was vastly underfunded when the agreement was finalized.

As the investigation into the plan's finances continues, Tedisco said the pensioners continue to suffer.

"They're depressed, there's tremendous anxiety, these are elderly individuals. They don't know if they're going to be able to pay their mortgage, feed their family, what their future is, their healthcare costs,” Tedisco said. “And they're real concern is the total lack of transparency by every one of these singular groups.”

"I do think there's a lot of surprises in this, I've said that all along and I hope that will be able to get through most of them,” Hartshorne said.

Hartshorne and Tedisco said a court date regarding the board's petition to dissolve was scheduled for this week, but has been pushed back. They're now expecting that to happen by the end of this month.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.

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