Letter: Story on hospital audit findings misleading

Editor,

A recent Whidbey News-Times article reported on WhidbeyHealth’s financial submissions to the Washington State Auditor. The article was factually correct, but incomplete and unfairly cast doubt on the work of our finance department and all the dedicated people who work in our hospital and clinics.

Like all public hospital districts, WhidbeyHealth is subject to stringent financial reporting requirements. Such oversight helps all hospitals operate transparently and builds trust among the communities we serve.

The State Auditor reports: “…we identified areas in which the District could make improvements.” Specifically, those areas are: to ensure timely reporting to the state and to ensure tracking and monitoring of non-capital assets such as computers, cellular phones and small equipment. In fact, our staff has very tight control over $65 million in fixed assets such as MRI equipment and other items critical to deliver exceptional healthcare.

It is worth pointing out that Auditors went on to say: ““We appreciate the District’s commitment to resolve this finding and thank the District for its cooperation and assistance during the audit.” Complete language is available on the state’s website.

A “finding” is simply a conclusion reached in answer to a question. In this case the findings relate to timely filing of reports. Without the complete story, some readers in the community have been led to unfortunate conclusions.

To be clear: There has been no misappropriation of funds. There has been no loss of equipment, nor did the state allege that there was.

Achieving our designation as an Accredited Critical Access hospital is evidence of WhidbeyHealth’s commitment to transparency and accountability for every facet of our operation. Our community should be proud that our local hospital has been recognized for delivering clinical services, patient experience, and administrative excellence on par with local major health systems also accredited by DNV.

Speaking for the Board of Commissioners and everyone at WhidbeyHealth, we were disappointed to see the language in this story. We hope that we can count on our local media outlets to continue our partnership by providing the community the most accurate, complete news possible.

Ron Wallin, President

WhidbeyHealth Board of Commissioners

Editor’s note: The hospital district had two separate audit findings. The audit report states that the hospital district “is at an increased risk for property loss because staff cannot identify theft-sensitive assets and does not know if assets have been misappropriated or purchased for personal use.”

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