By Marcy Stamper
A state audit of Three Rivers Hospital found that hospital employees had adjusted their own electronic time records but supervisors had not always reviewed the changes, in violation of hospital procedures.
The review by the Washington State Auditor of operations at the Brewster-based hospital in 2015 also found that there was not adequate documentation to support most of the adjustments. The audit resulted in issuance of a management letter in January, the least serious of three levels of concern issued by state auditors.
Adjustments – which could be for leave time, a department code, or because someone had forgotten to clock in or out – were made by both salaried and hourly personnel, according to Josiah Milner, the state’s lead on the hospital audit.
In many cases, the auditors weren’t sure of the reason for the adjustments because there was no documentation, said Milner.
Overall, auditors looked at time records of 20 employees. Fourteen of them had authorized the adjustment of their own time records and, of the 177 adjusted records, proper support was missing from 146 (82 percent) of them. There was no documentation at all from three of the 20 employees, said Milner.
Employees are supposed to fill out a form explaining any adjustments that had to be made to their computerized time sheets. That form should be submitted to the payroll department, said Milner.
The reason for some of the adjustments was clear and had been approved – for instance, an employee had taken leave time or arrived at work at a different hour from that originally entered, said Milner.
There was no evidence that anyone had been paid an incorrect amount, but the auditors were concerned that the hospital didn’t have adequate controls in place to be sure that wouldn’t happen, said Milner. The hospital should have adequate procedures and controls to catch any potential misappropriation of funds, he said.
Hospital management has made changes to procedures for adjusting time entry, requiring a report with written explanations for all adjustments. Supervisors and managers have also received training regarding proper payroll processes, according to the auditors’ management letter.
The fact that time-sheet documentation was missing turned up as a result of a separate investigation by the state auditors, which is not completed yet, said Milner.