Transparency and Clear Eyed Oversight Needed at VCMC
Supervisors must act immediately
During the first eight months of this fiscal year the Ventura County Medical Center Oversight Committee was provided projections that VCMC would make an $8 million profit for the year, then a few months later the projection was to lose $20 million and most recently the loss projected was $2.5 million.
When VCTA attended the February 14 Oversight Committee meeting we were surprised that no financial statements were presented. The committee only received projections and there was almost no discussion of what was causing the wide swings in projected profitability.
We've learned that for the last eight months there have been no financial statements produced for VCMC and thus there has been no discussion of actual performance compared to budgeted performance.
CFO Catherine Rodriguez has not provided financial statements to the Oversight Committee, the County Auditor-Controller, or the Public. Government transparency and access to public information does not exist.
In response to two Public Record Requests, we were told today that it will take them three weeks to provide us with financial statements for the first two quarters ending September and December.
We thought there might be two reasons to explain the delay, (1) the CFO is unable to create an actual financial report or, (2) actual financial reports, if they exist, might contradict projections. We now think both reasons might be true.
For years, the hospital has been using an accounting system that is unable to generate the essential reports for making key operating and financial decisions without significant effort by CFO Rodriguez and her staff.
Instead of demanding timely and accurate monthly financial statements, elected and appointed officials on the Oversight Committee have accepted projections and based operational and labor negotiation decisions for this $500 million enterprise on unsubstantiated estimates of financial performance.
We should all be alarmed. Each year, $30 million in subsidies are transferred from the County to VCMC to cover operating losses.
VCTA has a hard time believing the most recent forecasted loss of $2.5 million. No data was shared and because no explanation was given are we to assume the previous number of $20 million is more accurate? If so, that will be the largest loss in the history of VCMC
How can hospital executives fulfill their responsibilities? How can the Oversight Committee be effective in its function if it is not provided actual monthly or quarterly financial statements? Where is the transparency? Where is the oversight? Where is the clear-eyed assessment of the situation?
We understand Huron Consulting will be paid as much as $8 million to fix these and other issues at VCMC over the next year.
There is still one more unanswered question. Who allowed this alarming failure in the financial reporting system to continue year after year?
VCTA requested an independent audit of VCMC. We had been looking at the county hospital system since last fall and the more we learned, the more concerned we had become. Now we know that the installed accounting system is an appalling failure. This must be remedied immediately.
VCMC is working hard to earn a reputation for good care and is staffed with fine medical personnel. A transparent finance and accounting system is essential to VCMC's success.
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