Tenet Exec Overseeing State Units to Retire

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Tenet Healthcare Corp. said Monday that the executive in charge of its California hospital operations would retire this year as part of a broader reorganization.

The departure of Neil M. Sorrentino, 56, a 29-year Tenet executive, is the latest change stemming from the problems at the Santa Barbara-based hospital company.

Sorrentino's boss, Thomas Mackey, was ousted as chief operating officer in November amid reports that Mackey had engineered aggressive price increases at Tenet hospitals, which have sparked criticisms from numerous groups and scrutiny from regulators.

Sorrentino has been one of three Tenet divisional heads. In announcing his retirement, Tenet said its three divisions would be consolidated into two and that the two other divisional executives would be promoted to the company's senior management team, which has been without an experienced hospital manager since the ouster last fall of Mackey as well as Chief Financial Officer David Dennis.

The two executives slated for promotion, Reynold Jennings and Randolph Smith, will split control of the company's 114 hospitals. That incudes 40 in California.

"It's a realignment that's intended to bring the most seasoned hospital managers into the senior management team," Tenet spokesman Harry Anderson said.

Tenet is undergoing a government audit of Medicare payments, which the company has said boosted its profit.

The Justice Department also is probing so-called outlier payments for treating very sick patients, and separately has sued the company in a continuing fraud case for allegedly overbilling Medicare.

Tenet shares fell 25 cents to $16.96 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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