California hospital CEO, CFO put on leave amid investigation

The CEO and CFO of Lancaster, Calif.-based Antelope Valley Hospital have been placed on paid administrative leave, according to the Antelope Valley Press.

Here are seven things to know:

1. Antelope Valley Hospital CFO/COO Colette Nichols, PhD, was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 15. Two days later, the hospital's governing board and the board of the local healthcare district voted in favor of placing Antelope Valley Hospital CEO Michael Wall on paid administrative leave.

2. The two executives were put on leave while an investigation is conducted into recent allegations of embezzlement and other complaints, which Mr. Wall says are "outright falsehoods and partial truths," according to the report.

3. The allegations center on an alleged $200,000 donation of hospital funds to the Dr. Colette Nichols Foundation, a nonprofit foundation Mr. Wall created with the hospital. The foundation was formed with the purpose of empowering young women ages 6 to 17 in a community where they face high pregnancy rates and challenges with other health indicators, such as sexually transmitted diseases.

4. Mr. Wall claims he presented the foundation to the board on June 27 with a planned $200,000 donation of hospital funds intended to serve as seed money, according to the report. He is authorized to spend up to $200,000 without board approval.

5. Mr. Wall said he stopped development of the foundation a few days later when he realized directors had additional questions that needed to be answered before moving forward. He said he did not issue any funds to the foundation before stopping development.

"I understand the board knows of this truth, but for some reason decided not to correct the record Monday night in response to various false statements made about embezzlement," said Mr. Wall. "The Foundation has been dissolved and does not exist any longer."

6. When Antelope Valley Healthcare District Board Chairwoman Kristina Hong asked Mr. Wall if he and Dr. Nichols, as members of the foundation's board, completed conflict-of-interest reporting forms before seeking the funding, Mr. Wall said no.

7. A special meeting is scheduled for Oct. 31 for the board to discuss the matter further, according to the report.

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