Antonio L. Giordano — who was once highlighted in the Phoenix for being able to receive a $15 million loan from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, even though he helped to cause the state credit union crisis — is back in the news.
Giordano is one of the main owners of the Hillside Health Center, a nursing home on Providence’s East Side, which is closing because of debt and substandard care. As the Providence Journal recently reported, Hillside had the worst inspection record last year among 95 nursing homes in the state. In March, Hillside’s owners placed it in receivership, an equivalent of bankruptcy, in Superior Court, but conditions declined to the point that the federal government threatened to stop funding Medicare and Medicaid. Lieutenant Governor Charles Fogarty, chairman of the state Long Term Care Coordinating Council, responded by appointing a task force to examine the nursing home’s decline and prevent similar situations. The state Health Department had found problems with substandard care at Hillside as early as 2002.
As the Phoenix previously reported (see "Good money after bad," February 22, 2002), Giordano has something of a penchant for winning the support of branches of the state and federal government. The Providence office of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agreed in May 1995, for example, to guarantee a $15.3 million loan for a partnership half-owned by Giordano. The money was used by Giordano’s Coventry Health Care Associates to refinance and rehabilitate the 344-bed Coventry Health Center. By February 2001, however, Giordano’s lawyer asked a judge to place the company in receivership.
The receivership filing came shortly after the Rhode Island Depositors Economic Protection Corporation (DEPCO) settled a lawsuit against Giordano for his role in the credit union crisis. In its 1992 report, DEPCO highlighted 10 borrowing groups, including one led by Giordano, whose abuses merited investigation or civil suits. Despite this, and despite Giordano’s previous four-year suspension from participation in HUD programs, the state Health Department waived its regulations in 1994 to allow him to acquire Hillside with a 10 percent down payment, rather than the customary 20 percent down payment.
Giordano, who lives in North Kingstown, couldn’t be reached for comment.
To what extent is the state and federal government responsible for the situation? "I think the issue of HUD’s involvement needs to be looked at very closely, not only here in Rhode Island, but elsewhere," Fogarty told me last week, during an appearance on WPRI-TV’s Newsmakers. "I think the state — we have a responsibility to look at how a situation was allowed to spin out of control."
Issue Date: June 18 - 24, 2004
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