Thursday, February 27, 2014

They should have been given a Miranda warning

Sometimes the exact words that people use to blame others serve as the most powerful indictment of their own ineptitude and culpability.  Imagine if you were to read the following statements from the owner/governing body of any non-profit hospital in America, describing a situation that lasted almost a decade:

[The hospital owner's president] blamed the facility’s debt on administrators who were not forthcoming.

“We were not getting full disclosure. We would ask the questions and we were not getting a full response.”

The hospital’s deficit began in 2006 and . . . its administrators did not reveal it despite being asked numerous times.

“We don’t know why we didn’t get the information. We asked the questions but did not get the answers.”

At one board meeting, trustees inquired about the hospital’s finances and “the board chair said it would be looked into. But at the end of the board meeting, we did not have a clarification.”

"After three years of mounting debt, [we] hired outside auditors who discovered the extent of it. They were using available funds to cover it and were reporting an amount that included those funds. Our consultant showed us the real cash flow deficit before funds were transferred to cover it. Both sets of numbers were legitimate, but ours showed a red flag.”

The debt currently totals $350 million, and [the hospital owner's president] cites the administrators’ carefree attitude towards expenses, as well as viewing the [hospital's owner] as a cash cow that could cover shortfalls, as the reason for the debt.

“The director general would come to the board of the owners, and say I need more money and our board would say, ‘How much?”

“It was a hospital that was run without worrying. If they could buy a pen for $1.50 or pay hundreds for a pen, they would pay hundreds and say it was needed. … We allowed it and they benefitted by it. There came a point that our organization could not allow the hospital to continue spending without a high level of fiscal responsibility. So we now find ourselves with a significant deficit.”

Asked about reports that some of the hospital’s more than 850 doctors had been earning salaries in excess of $1 million a year, [the hospital owner's president] replied: “I have never seen the actual salaries of our physicians.”

Here's the real truth:

Dan Brown, editor of eJewishPhilanthropy, [said] that he is troubled that the [owner] isn’t “willing to admit they have any responsibility for anything that’s happened in the past.”

“I think their mistake is that they were allowing things to happen under their watch,” he said. “It was bad management on their part. Ultimately, as owners and bosses, they’re responsible.”

And how does the owner respond?  By trying to put pressure on the government:

If you have not done so yet, please sign this petition to the Government of Israel in support of HMO. You can say “I stand with Hadassah Hospital and the people of Jerusalem and Israel” by signing on TODAY. Our goal is 10,000 signatures, so please include yours and pass it on to your friends and family! We will present the petition and signatures to the Israeli government in mid-March.

This group--Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America--has given up all moral authority to be the owners and governing body of a tremendously important national asset.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

This is an astonishing and troubling article. There seems to be a lot of finger-pointing going on by the Hadassah ladies - at the government, the administration, even the staff. At almost everyone, in fact, but themselves.

If the HWZOA hasn't been able to exert control over the administration to-date, what makes them think they can do so going forward?

How distressing, too, that they are attempting to use a petition as a smokescreen to hide their incompetence - and to pressure/threaten Israeli stakeholders with the impression of the support they purport to be able to call on. (I doubt that those signing the petition have been made aware of the full story.)

HWZOA should stop attempting to play at international politics, step aside, and let someone competent take the reins. If they really care about the hospital, rather than their own egos, this would be the right thing to do.