Phoebe docs call for independent audit - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe docs call for independent audit

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August 10, 2005

Albany-- The Phoebe Medical Staff voted to request an audit of Grove Pointe, the Hospital's Cayman Island-based insurance company, where millions of dollars are kept in off-shore accounts.

Phoebe's administrators say they have done an audit of Grove Pointe, and the Health Systems Board found no problems.

"The fact that we are having trouble getting answers to questions about a publicly owned hospital is in and of itself rather suspicious," said Phoebe Surgeon Dr. John Bagnato.

The Phoebe Putney Hospital Medical Staff voted 42 to 19 to request an independent, forensic audit of Grove Pointe, Phoebe's Cayman captive company.

Dr. John Bagnato said, "We feel that really there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty regarding the business practices and the travel practices of Phoebe."

The hospital uses the off shore company to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on malpractice insurance, but must keep millions of dollars in the Caymans to run the captive.

Phoebe administrators admit to extravagant travel expenses on trips working with the company, and now their medical staff say they want an independent look at the books.

"Dr. Gebhardt, who is the on the board, said there never has been an audit. That's one of the concerns," Bagnato said.

Phoebe's Board Compliance Committee says they have conducted two audits by two accounting firms, and report a clean bill of health, but gave no specifics.

Now Phoebe's Board challenges the doctors to produce evidence of wrong doing.

Phoebe Spokesperson Jackie Ryan said, "If at that time he has credible evidence, the board will take appropriate action. If he does not, he will be asked to withdraw these latest accusations. The time has come to put this behind us."

Dr. Bagnato said "The way to clear the air, is to get an independent audit and if everything is fine, everything is wonderful then."

WALB has been told there will be a closed hospital board meeting tonight, and that the Medical Staff's request for the independent audit will be discussed.

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