Letters: Weems audit should set off alarm bells
Franklin County is reopening. However, you wouldn’t know it if you tried to come to a county commission meeting and address commissioners. The doors are still locked and I think they like it that way. Two years ago, commissioners greatly restricted access by the public by creating a written policy severing your right to actually speak to and receive a reply from commissioners at public meetings.
I stew about a lot of things I feel are unjust or just misleading. At a recent county commission meeting the CPA who conducted the Weems audit seemed to give a glowing report. Naturally, none of the commissioners read it, or they would have asked questions that would have revealed the lie. Taken from the actual report, I give you the truth. We have uploaded the actual report to our web site at a BetterFranklin.com.
Weems has several people in finance including a highly-paid chief financial officer. There is no excuse for:
* Very large prior period restatements, totaling $1.25 million, has little explanation but was a negative change on the books.
* Hospital leadership foregoing the standard and required management discussion
* The very important number of accounts receivable being severely written down, without comment from publicly-published internal reports. Current assets, a closely watched figure, was also massively written down.
* Construction in progress is given as $2.58 million. What do we have to show for it?
* Accounts payable rose to $908,000
* Total liabilities decreased only slightly despite county commissioners “forgiving” a $690,000 loan.
* Total operating expenses are up over 10 percent after rising a similar amount last year, in spite of the number of actual patients, overnights and other services flat to declining.
* Cash and cash equivalents (money in your pocket) dropped another half-million dollars.
* Medicare patients dropped from 40 to 38 percent which is very worrisome since only Medicare receives the critical access hospital subsidy which brings in about $220,000 a year. More worrisome is that Medicaid (not subject to the subsidy) grew by 3 percent, which the hospital loses money on every patient.
* Medical malpractice insurance: The report notes that Weems is not accruing liability as required, which will affect financials negatively. In addition, it was unreported Weems is significantly underinsured, relying on the financial strength of the county to pay claims exceeding the liability limits of its woefully low insurance limit of about $250,000. Typically, small hospitals would have between $8 million and $15 million in malpractice insurance.
* Internal controls over financial reporting continuing to be weak. “Processes and controls in place in fiscal 2019 were not sufficient to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting which resulted in the other findings described within this schedule.”
* Accrual basis accounting is done ineffectively, requiring many adjustments or reclassifications.
* Recording of audit adjustments were not properly performed from the previous year’s audit.
The audit reports should set off alarm bells all over the place. Commissioners and hospital management are clearly “on notice.” Watch that $3.2 million coronavirus “gift” disappear over the next two years if current losses of a quarter-million dollars a month continue. Independent professionals should view the repeated issues with financial controls and reports as either deliberate or incompetent that allow hospital management to make claims of progress that are false. A copy of this email and the report should be sent to the auditor general for further review.
Let’s not forget that the largest nonprofit health system in the country had offered us millions of dollars and a virtual end to risk until last month when the county commissioners decided to continue “Lockley’s Folly.” $23 million spent and counting!
Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County