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Houston County Hospital District hears audit reports

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Houston County Hospital District LogoBy Jan White
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CROCKETT – At the Houston Hospital District Board meeting held on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Kim Johnson with Todd, Hamaker & Johnson presented the audit report.

Johnson told the board that the report for 2021 is an unmodified or unqualified opinion. “It says that, in our opinion, based on the information we have reviewed, it is a fair representation of the financial position and the statement of the changes in the financial position of the hospital district for the years ending 2021.

Johnson then moved on to the 2022 audit. “As a reminder to the board and to the public, we are hired as independent auditors to audit the financial statements. This letter has gone to great lengths to ensure everyone knows what the auditor does and what the management is responsible for. My responsibility is to review that financial information and supporting documentation in accordance with government auditing standards. This report is also an unmodified and unqualified opinion. A clean opinion, which is, I’m sure, what you are looking for.”

“If there is something that we feel the board may need attention to, we will present it in a separate letter which we call a ‘Management Letter. In this letter is a comment I’ve made for a few years now. I feel that you need to develop a better, more comprehensive capital policy and a policy that states you need to do an inventory of your assets over at the hospital itself. This is out of an abundance of caution. It is my opinion that should there be disputes between the current operator and the district, like Little River, as an example, you need to make sure that the hospital district knows the assets that they have and which are theirs. As I read it, most of the assets are the district’s, even if CMC has to replace them. Up to this point, no inventory has been taken, so I think it’s time to look at that again.”

Dick Murchison told the group that he was taking steps to perform the suggested inventory. “We’re getting a list from CMC of machinery and equipment that they have provided so we can be able to distinguish between what is the districts and what is not the districts.”

After the auditor’s report, board member Rhonda Brown brought up the issue of paying for hospital repairs incurred without prior knowledge or board vote. Johnson stated that ‘best practices’ would be to know in advance and make the budget amendment, but she also said that sometimes emergency situations happen and that it was a matter of the board’s discretion.

During the vote to accept the Feb. 14 meeting minutes, a lengthy discussion was held regarding Agenda Item 4 –  in which a motion was made to form a Special Negotiations Committee. Brown told Murchison, who is responsible for recording the meetings and presenting the minutes, “I want the minutes to reflect that I said it was not stated on the agenda. There was no mention of it on our Executive Session agenda. It may be a gray area, but it wasn’t on the agenda.”

Roy Langford stated that he, too, felt that it was a ‘gray area.’ Brown interrupted Langford saying, “I’m telling you, going forward, after CEIDC, I’m doing everything by the books. In my mind and in my thoughts, I’m going by the books. I’m not going down that path. I’m not getting put in the hot seat.”

Langford then read aloud the agenda rules stating that “The Houston County Hospital District Board of Directors reserves the right to adjourn into Executive Session at any time during the meeting to discuss any matters listed above authorized by Texas Open Meetings Act,” which includes consultation with attorney, deliberation about real property, personnel matters or negotiations. “Since negotiations were one of the things we were talking about, this falls into that [category].”

Crowson defended her position, stating, “Our attorney recommended that I appoint a special committee so that we would have one group dealing with any possible operators that might be interested in this hospital. So that’s what we did.”

Following that discussion, Crowson reported that the Special Negotiations Committee had met and gone over the lease in great detail, asking numerous questions of their attorney in Austin. “We are deep into the specifics of negotiations, and we hope to have a more detailed report in a timely fashion.”

Dinah Pipes, representing the ambulance committee, reported that they had discussed the $8k per year increase request from the current service as well as other topics such as budget and what other increases might be incurred. It was also reported that the executive committee met with Dick Murchison to discuss updating the financial position based on taxing income received at the end of the month.

The board passed on one agenda item: to discuss and take action on the AMR ambulance contract because the contract had not been received at this time.

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