Regional denies access to Hospital Year End Audit
For years the
TWG as well as the Board of Commissioners has obtained copies
of the audit for Jasper Memorial/Jasper Health Services
as well as for Oconee Regional Medical Center. The audit
includes both entities. The TWG pays for its copies; the
BOC receives a copy because of their financial contribution
to the entity.
This year the
TWG again requested, through Open Records, a copy of the
audit when it was available. We were told several times
it wasn’t completed yet. The fiscal year ends September
30th for Jasper Health Services. After reading about Oconee’s
CFO, Jean Aycock, presenting the audit 2 months ago to the
hospital board, we again asked for a copy of the audit.
We were again told, “That was just a “draft audit” that
was presented. When we get the final audit, we will let
We have now
found that not only have they denied the TWG a copy of the
audit, but they have also denied the Jasper County BOC a
copy. The BOC should not accept this position by ORMC and
the denial of information. The
taxpayers of Jasper County invest over $1000 a day into
the hospital. Every taxpayer as well as the BOC who oversee
the spending of our tax money has a right to see this audit.
There have been several court cases
that have been decided in favor of “the public’s right to
know” concerning hospitals and hospital authorities as well
as private corporations that run hospitals.
At the April
meeting of the Hospital Board, the following was reported
by the Monticello News: (see April 27, 2006, Monticello
News, page 7):
other business, Oconee Regional Medical Center (ORMC) chief
executive officer Brian Riddle informed board members that
the Jasper County Commission's request for an ORMC 2005
audit report had been denied by his board of directors.
He said that there was an obvious mistrust on both parties
Riddle also said that there were concerns expressed about
the pertinence of an ORMC audit to the local commission
and furthermore fulfilling that request would not answer
the questions to which the commission was seeking answers
about Jasper Memorial.”
questions the motives in denying a copy of the audit to
Jasper’s BOC. If there were truly mistrust
on both parties behalf, wouldn’t releasing the audited financial
figures help to dispel that mistrust? What is there to hide?
Why has ORMC delayed this request so long? We don’t know
how many times the BOC has asked for the audit, but we do
know the TWG has asked on at least 4 different occasions.
Mr. Riddle also states,
“fulfilling that request (copies of the audit) would not
answer the questions to which the commission was seeking
answers about Jasper Memorial.” How
does he know what questions the BOC has? What about questions
the public might have? Does he know what they are? Why the
secrecy? There have been reports that the hospital made
a profit again this year. Shouldn’t the public know if they
did and how much the profit was from the official audit?
If it is true
that ORMC’s lawyers have advised them not to release the
audit, it would be surprising. “Richmond County Hospital
Authority v. Southeastern Newspapers Corp” (two cases),
Supreme Court of Georgia (1984) and “Northwest Georgia
Health System, Inc v. Times-Journal, Inc.”, Appeals
Court (1995) both have ruled that hospitals and hospital
authorities as well as private corporations that run hospitals
are subject to Open Records laws and must disclose salaries
and financial information.
hospital receives a great deal of tax revenue—such as Medicare,
Medicaid, and Indigent payments, and in Jasper’s (Oconee’s)
case, it also received over $500,000 of tax money directly
from the taxpayers of Jasper County.
Riddle is scheduled to speak at the BOC meeting Monday,
May 1. Citizens should make plans to attend.
** To keep the taxpayers of Jasper County, Georgia informed
as to where and how their tax dollars are being spent.
** To keep the taxpayers abreast of local policies and laws
being discussed and enacted.
** We advocate more open government, less government spending,
and lower property taxes.