State report: Cash transactions problem area for Forks hospital cafeteria

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — Forks Community Hospital needs to tighten its internal controls on cash transactions in the facility’s cafeteria, according to the state Auditor’s Office.

The admonition was contained in a March 12 “management letter” to the hospital arising from the Auditor’s Office’s accountability audit of the hospital, which examined financial operations from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2012.

Management letters note deficiencies and contain suggestions for eliminating them.

There was no evidence of theft or criminal conduct, in which case a fraud investigation would have ensued along with referrals made to local law enforcement and the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Auditor’s Office spokesman Thomas Shapley said Monday.

“This issue is lack of sufficient internal controls that raise the district’s potential liability,” Shapley said.

The cafeteria collected $263,952 in operating revenue in 2011 and $284,264 in 2012, according to the audit.

Certain “control weaknesses” noted in a prior audit had continued, according in the latest review, Audit Manager Carol Ehlinger said in the management letter.

She cited eight weaknesses in cash receipts in the cafeteria.

They included receipts practices that did not follow written policies, refunds and canceled transactions that were not consistently tracked, multiple kitchen staff having access to where cash is kept overnight, multiple staff members using the same cash drawer and the lack of a method for tracking gift certificates.

Ehlinger’s recommendations included ensuring that cash receipts follow policies and procedures, limiting the staff members who work with the cash drawer, reconciling transactions to make sure there are no misappropriations and ensuring that blank gift certificates are properly numbered, safeguarded and tracked.

Acting CEO and Chief Financial Officer Jim Chaney said Monday the West End hospital, which is in Clallam County Public Hospital District No. 1, is addressing the problems cited in the audit.

“The fact that you have a number of different people who are basically taking in cash at the till, that’s what can create opportunities for error,” Chaney said.

“We continue to work on it,” he added.

“We are seeing if we can do it within the current system or have to buy a new system to accommodate that.”

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 24. 2014 6:32PM
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