Friday, August 22, 2008

Health Care Executives Gone Wild: Financial Director of Shriners Hospital for Children Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud

From the St Louis Post-Dispatch,

A former Shriners Hospital for Children executive this morning admitted stealing more than $800,000 that would have gone to the care of sick children.

Robert Brodzin, 41, was a certified public accountant and the director of fiscal services for Shriners - the hospital's main financial person here in St. Louis.

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway called Brodzin 'the lowest of the low.'

'This case absolutely sickens me,' she said. 'While children were fighting for their lives ... he was stealing money.'

John Gillies, head of the FBI's St. Louis office, said Brodzin used some of the money for luxury cars like a Corvette, Hummers and a leased BMW, and to support his side business - two tanning salons.

Between October of 2000 and May of this year, Brodzin created three fake companies, then submitted 'payment requests' to Shriners. Because of his position, he was able to manipulate the internal accounting controls and hide the scheme – at least for a time.

In all, Brodzin reaped $828,973 from his scheme, according to testimony during Brodzin's plea hearing in federakl court in St. Louis this morning.

“You were really stealing this money... is that true?” U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry asked Brodzin. 'Yes it is, your honor,' he replied.

We seem to be having a run of hospital executives behaving badly in the US. Our most recent post on such a case was just three weeks ago.

Then, I proposed that it might make sense to subject leaders of health care organizations, such as hospitals, academic medical centers, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, managed care companies, etc to a licensing process that could ensure they have some knowledge of health care, some first hand familiarity with health care on the ground, and at least an intellectual appreciation for health care's core values. Of course, I cannot promise that such a process would have kept someone like Mr Brodzin out of a health care leadership position. But maybe such a process would make at least a few snakes in suits uncomfortable enough to discourage them from a career in health care. Furthermore, maybe exposing a would be leader of a children's hospital to some of the sick children it serves would discourage him or her from manipulating the hospital's mission for private gain.

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