The New York Times reported on a state audit of dysfunctional Westchester Medical Center. The good news was that "the audit uncovered no corruption or fraud." But instead,
We found that the management has been awful. They had a weak board that was asleep at the switch and a management that converted a $2.6 million dollar surplus in the year 2000 into a cumulative deficit of $207 million at the end of 2004.Furthermore, the Times reported that "hospital administrators submitted required monthly reports to county officials that drastically understated expenses and liabilities." In addition, "the audit also showed that former executives at the hospital were spending lavishly on things like restaurants, hotels and florists - with scant controls or documentation - as the medical center's finanaces were deteriorating." And, "the Westchester County Health Care Corporation, which governs the hospital, had virtually no policies regarding the use of corporate credit cards, according to the audit. Auditors found a total of $111, 957 in 2002 and 2003 that was not properly documented on cards used by 11 administrators."
I wonder how many of the troubled health care institutions we have noted in Health Care Renewal would have even worse results if they ever were subject to a detailed audit. Because Westchester Medical Center functions under local government supervision, it could be held accountable by means of such an audit. But most of the organizations we have mentioned on this blog are not so accountable, and have never had to face a post hoc inquiry of this sort. If only they could be made to do so.
By the way, Westchester Medical is the same institution that hired Joseph Pisani as a Senior Vice President for financial planning in 2003, hailing him as a leader of "gravitas," only to fire him in 2005 when it turned out he was involved in charges of Medicaid fraud, later settled, at Staten Island University Hospital. (See our post here.)
As we have noted before, the cumulative effect of this sort of mismanagement of major health care institutions across the country might begin to account for some of the rising costs, declining access, stagnant quality, and disgruntled health professionals that health care policy researchers and experts seem helpless to explain.