It turns out that Dr Rao has another position, this one far away at Spartan Health Sciences University, a medical school located on the Caribbean island of St Lucia:
The $400,000-a-year chief of surgery at Brooklyn's Wyckoff Heights Medical Center heads a Caribbean medical school that hopes will funnel medical students - and their money - back to New York, the Daily News has learned.
The surgeon, Dr. Addagada Rao, is the president of Spartan Health Sciences University in sunny St. Lucia. Last year he became one of a handful of owners in hopes of bringing third- and fourth-year medical students to Wyckoff to train - and to aid its ailing coffers.
'My association with Spartan is to fulfill my lifelong goal to educate all who are able and willing to pursue a career in medicine...' Rao is quoted on the medical school's Web site.
Mr Garg also has a role at Spartan,
Garg, 49, has been Wyckoff's $500,000-per-year CEO since November and is also an investor in Spartan. He told The News he stepped down as Spartan's chief operating officer after he got the top job at Wyckoff.
Meanwhile, the Daily News alleged:
Rao, 67, is in a position to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the dual relationships.
The ability to train in New York is a big draw for offshore medical schools - especially if the school has an established connection with a hospital, experts said.
The state has approved Spartan students to do only 12-week stints in New York hospitals. Students pay between $4,000 and $5,000 for the training.
Wyckoff - and Rao - could make far more money if the state okays a pending request for Spartan students to do their full two years training at New York hospitals.
Dr Rao was asked about these relationships, and responded,
he saw nothing wrong with having outside financial interests.
'I disclosed this to the hospital,' he said, but declined to offer further details.
Asked if the hospital's board of trustees, of which Rao and Garg are members, approved the arrangement, he said: 'That was not necessary.'
It is still a little hard for me to understand how someone could be chief of surgery at a NY hospital and simultaneously the president of a Caribbean medical school, but setting that aside...
This story illustrates another twist on conflicts of interest affecting the leaders of not-for-profit health care organizations. Many of the smaller not-for-profit hospitals, of which there are thousands in the US, may have minimal conflict of interest policies, which may be minimally enforced, without much transparency or accountability. The coziness of the leadership culture of such smaller institutions may preclude anyone within the culture from asking tough questions. The results may be total confusion as to whose interests particular leaders are serving. In particular, the interests of each hospital's patients may get lost in the shuffle. In this case, the interests of medical students may also get lost in the shuffle. Although the institutions involved may be small, and hence the conflicts may seem small in terms of their monetary value, they aggregate to contribute to the moral miasma that now is the atmosphere of health care.