Opinion

Whidbey General Hospital needs to tighten reins on pay protocol | Some Perspective

An audit report released Tuesday by the state auditor’s office reveals Whidbey General Hospital overpaid its employees more than $180,000 in 2012.

According to the report, auditors concluded that hospital officials didn’t have adequate control over the payroll process.

This undoubtedly comes as a shock to voters who, in November, approved a $50 million bond for the hospital to expand and renovate its aging facilities.

Hospital officials publicly vowed to be good stewards of that taxpayer money.

One can only hope they will be better stewards over this $50 million than they were with the $180,000 mistakenly given in employee overpayments.

Whidbey General Hospital employs approximately 700 people and has a payroll expenditure of approximately $48 million.

Employees are paid based on time cards utilized using an employee badge scanning system. Salaried employees fill out a monthly time card indicating paid time off.

According to the state auditor, employees and supervisors are expected to review and approve these records for accuracy. During a review of time sheets that encompassed three pay periods, auditors said they discovered 20 percent of those time sheets weren’t approved by the employee and 10 percent weren’t approved by the supervisor.

Ultimately, the buck needs to stop with Thomas Tomasino, the hospital’s chief executive officer, who was hired in 2009 with a $230,000 per year salary.

Under Tomasino’s leadership, hospital officials must ensure supervisors are taking the proper steps to ensure adequacy.

One of the recommendations from the state auditor is to limit employee’s access to the system to just the functions they need. Sometimes too many hands in the pot convolutes things. Hospital officials need to review this system and simplify it as much as possible.

Having major issues like this gnaws away at public trust, and in doing so, voters might not be so willing to hand over their money the next time the hospital comes asking for it.

Megan Hansen is editor for The Whidbey Examiner. Reach her at mhansen@whidbeynewsgroup.com

 

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