Although a state Legislative Auditor’s report says otherwise, St. Charles Parish Hospital management maintains the public was informed about how it spent about $6 million on operational costs.
“During numerous public presentations prior to the bond election, the hospital informed the public that a substantial use of these bond proceeds would be used for physician and new service line development,” said hospital spokesman Quinn Landry. “The hospital believes its spending is reflective of what was presented to the public.”
But auditor Carr, Riggs & Ingram, an independent firm that conducted the audit on behalf of the Louisiana Legislative auditor’s office, affirmed the findings in its report for the year that ended July 31, 2014.
In response to labeling the move as “improper” and calling for fund reimbursement, the Luling hospital repaid the money in full by March.
“We are pleased that the audit findings noted in the 2013 audit were remedied,” said hospital CEO Fred Martinez.In 2012, St. Charles Parish Hospital issued $14 million in bonds for purchasing, acquiring and constructing, land, buildings, machinery, equipment and furnishings for hospital facilities. Of this amount, the hospital administration says $3.7 million went to operations and nearly $2 million for physician and program development in 2014-15, representing nearly $6 million.
According to the audit, these expenditures were described as “not in direct relation to its purpose as written on the ballot,” which was placed before parish voters on April 21, 2012.
In its response in the audit, the hospital administration states, “As a small rural hospital, it has become very difficult to operate in such a volatile healthcare environment. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) and continued federal mandates, we are exploring some form of affiliation with a larger healthcare system.”
By Sept. 1, 2014, the Luling hospital was being managed by Ochsner Health System.