Hospital CEO dismissal

Auditor finds LCCH lost more than $26,000 to former CEO

Bernier sues for records release

By Les Bowen for Lake Chelan Mirror   |   Feb. 10, 2010   |   Original source behind paywall

A report released last week by the State Auditor’s Office found public funds totaling more than $26,454 went to former CEO Dave Bernier before hospital commissioners terminated his employment last September.

“We found at least $4,150 in charges that were not in accordance with hospital policies and procedures,” auditors wrote.

The investigation showed that $12,000 was paid to Bernier in monthly housing allowance after the foreclosure sale of his Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., condominium in May 2008. Bernier continued to collect the housing stipend through July 2009.

When Bernier was hired, commissioners agreed to cover $10,000 in moving expenses. Auditors reported the hospital paid an extra $5,672.20, but was never reimbursed.

Several credit card charges were brought into question. According to the report, Bernier did not provide original receipts for at least $1,845. The report outlines at least $2,305 in improper room service meal charges was billed to the hospital. The State Auditor’s report noted Bernier did not reimburse $702 in personal expenses related to a golf tournament and unauthorized meal expenses.

“We recommend the hospital strengthen internal controls over the approval of expenditures to ensure adequate oversight and monitoring to safeguard public resources and compliance with Hospital policies,” the report stated. “We further recommend the hospital seek recovery of the $18,374 in losses of public funds and $3,930 of related investigation costs from the former CEO and/or its insurance bonding company as appropriate. The hospital should also consider recovery of the $4,150 in unsupported and unallowable transactions.”

The hospital’s response to the audit stated an intent to recover lost funds and noted that new procedures have been implemented to prevent future losses.

Bernier continues to deny the allegations against him.

“The auditor’s report is factually incorrect,” Bernier said in an interview with the Lake Chelan Mirror. “Documents were provided to the auditor’s office that are available at the hospital. Unfortunately, the report is a one-sided report.”

He said he disputed the entire report from the State Auditor and will work through to have the report corrected, even through the justice system if necessary. Bernier added that the auditor’s office did not assign fault, but was more interested in operations and safeguards at the hospital.

He further explained that the hospital has been uncooperative in providing documents he’s requested. That’s limited his ability to respond to the allegations or prepare a tort claim, Bernier said.

“They are holding back information, hoping I will give up and walk away,” he said. “They are wrong in their thinking.”

Bernier filed a case in Chelan County Superior Court against the hospital on Jan. 20, seeking to obtain several records to which he said he’s been denied access.

“It’s not over yet,” he said.