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RI HEALTH

State official who raised billing concerns about Eleanor Slater Hospital resigns

Jennifer White was the interim CEO of the state-run hospital until April, and is the chief financial officer of the state agency that runs it

The Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, R.I.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — The chief financial officer of the agency that runs Rhode Island’s troubled hospital has resigned, the state said.

Jennifer White, who had also led Eleanor Slater Hospital as interim CEO until April, resigned effective Saturday.

White had been placed on leave from her job as chief financial officer of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals in late June. Her last day is Saturday, the state said.

White was among those who raised issues about the state’s billing practices, and is now among those on their way out. Dr. Brian Daly, chief medical officer, also put in his resignation.

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The state still hasn’t said why White had been placed on leave — she has been the target of criticism from unions — and White was not immediately available for comment.

Eleanor Slater Hospital has campuses in Cranston and Burrillville, caring for patients with a range of medical and psychiatric conditions. It has been the target of scrutiny, and the subject of a number of investigations, over patient care and billing practices.

The state had to halt billing the Medicaid program because its mix of psychiatric to medical patients was in violation of federal rules. Internally, some officials have raised concerns about improper billing and fudging patient counts to improperly get federal Medicaid money.

Though White’s departure was announced late on a Friday, it has been in the works for months. Governor Dan McKee in the past has explicitly linked staffing changes with people who have “created some confusion” over Medicaid billing at Eleanor Slater Hospital. White was among the most persistent voices within BHDDH in raising concerns about whether the state was properly billing Medicaid.

Asked at a news conference in May about potential staffing changes, McKee said: “Some of those problems are directly related to some of the decisions (made by) some of the management that has been in place. I’m not going to get into specifics on personnel, but … people who are creating some confusion there, which has happened just recently on the Medicaid issue recently, in terms of whether we’re going to be able to collect those dollars or not. We still believe we can, although we have a review team reviewing that very strongly right now. So yes, we expect to have some good hires, and where it’s necessary, we expect to make adjustments in staffing.”

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Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.