Nashville General has no documentation for $400K in credit card purchases by leaders, audit finds

Three Nashville (Tenn.) General Hospital leaders spent $401,419 in credit card purchases over two years, but the hospital does not have documentation for 85 percent of the transactions, The Tennessean reported, citing a new city internal audit.

Six things to know:

1. The audit pertaining to the financially struggling safety-net hospital is dated Aug. 28. It revealed hospital CEO Joseph Webb, executive assistant Dawn Thomas, and director of marketing, Cathy Poole, made the credit card purchases in 2016 and 2017, according to The Tennessean.

2. The credit card purchases reportedly include nearly $32,000 for airfare, which the hospital said was hospital-related; $22,000 to Jason's Deli, which the hospital said was for catering; and $20,000 spent at Regal Cinemas; which the hospital said was for gift certificates for employee birthdays.

3. Nashville General was unable to provide auditors with credit card statements, transaction receipts or other documentation for 40 out of 47 of the transactions, The Tennessean reported. Auditors could see how much was spent via the website of a J.P. Morgan Chase credit card, but the hospital does not have documentation to determine whether the purchases supported the hospital's mission.

4. Ms. Poole, the hospital's spokesperson, attributed the lack of documentation to high turnover in the hospital's finance department. She told The Tennessean: "We are aware that some of the receipt files were misplaced during staff transition. Our new approach will ensure this will no longer be an issue."

5. According to the report, the hospital has seen the audit and accepted auditors' recommendations. In doing so, the hospital is working on a new credit card policy. Ms. Poole told The Tennessean the hospital will also reroute credit card usage to Mr. Webb's executive assistant. She said the audit, which the Metro Audit Committee is scheduled to discuss next week, did not identify any expenses deemed inappropriate. 

6. The Tennessean reported the audit indeed found the hospital's payments — not counting the credit card purchases for which there was no documentation — are "generally" in keeping with its mission, but also found the hospital authority's purchasing policy was inconsistently practiced in departments.

Read the full story here.

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