The CEO of a local health care provider accused by the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts of misusing company dollars officially resigned on Tuesday.
Last week, Auditor Charlie Janssen’s office released a letter containing its findings regarding company expenses relating to hotel room charges, car rentals, credit card use and expense reimbursement documents in connection with CEO William McInnis and Chief Operating Officer Aaron Maxey, two of the head executive management leaders for East Central District Health Department (ECDHD) and the Good Neighbor Community Health Center (GNCHC).
McInnis is accused of fraudulently spending company money on hotel room expenses, gas purchases and various meal outings, as previously reported by The Telegram. Maxey is still serving in his existing capacity as East Central’s Board of Directors conducts its own internal investigation and audit process.
“Mr. McInnis has tendered his resignation as CEO of East Central District Health Department and Good Neighbor Community Health Center,” Board President Wendy Ramaekers said, through a released statement to The Telegram. “The Board will vote on that resignation at our meeting next week. It is unfortunate that the issues raised by the state auditor have overshadowed the good work of ECDHD and GNCHC.
“We have already begun taking the steps necessary to address those issues and we remain committed to providing the best health, medical and dental services to the community we serve.”
Through his work with East Central, McInnis served residents of Platte, Colfax, Boone and Nance counties.
During a Wednesday phone interview with The Telegram, Ramaekers said that current East Central Chief Financial Officer Beth Wewel will serve as interim organization CEO until the position is permanently filled.
McInnis was hired in November 2017, and Maxey joined him shortly after in January 2018 to oversee East Central and Good Neighbor health care facilities, as previously reported by The Telegram. Prior to working together with the new health care systems, the duo was employed at the Southside/Dodson Avenue health centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. McInnis served as the Southside/Dodson executive director and Maxey as its compliance and quality manager, as previously reported by The Chattanoogan.com.
Erlanger Health System, the owner of the facilities, fired Southside/Dodson's top management and entire board of directors after suffering more than $2 million in losses in 2014. McInnis was reportedly hired in the executive director capacity in August 2013 and fired in August 2015.
“Erlanger has operated the two health centers as a Federal Qualified Health Center (FQHC) for many years,” Erlanger Health Systems representatives told The Chattanoogan in 2015. “As such, Erlanger has received a grant from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to fund partial expenses associated with operating the centers. However, even with grant funding, expenses at the health centers far exceeded the revenue, amounting to more than $2 million in losses last year.”
When asked if Ramaekers and her colleagues were aware of McInnis and Maxey being fired from top management positions at other health care facilities prior to their hiring with East Central and Good Neighbor in Nebraska, she noted that she was not able to discuss the matter.
In addition to the direct fraud accusation made by Janssen’s office, the audit also revealed a lack of supporting documentation in several situations relating to certain moving expenses, lodging expenses, car rentals, meal expenses and car mileage.
The released report also highlighted unreasonable expenses incurred with company funds in instances of meal expenses, per diem payments and other expenses that exceeded the amount in the approved ECDHD polices manual. Certain transactions completed by McInnis and Maxey allegedly also lacked the appropriate channels of receiving approval, according to Janssen’s office. The office also alleges that certain unallowable expenses per department policy were made with a department credit card.
Special Audits and Finance Manager Mary Avery noted that with the state’s work being complete, all relevant information was provided to law enforcement and the Platte County Attorney’s Office to determine if criminal charges should be levied.
The Telegram was unable to immediately reach Platte County Attorney Carl Hart Jr. for comment, but in a followup voicemail, he said that more information regarding the county’s investigation and possible action may be available in a few weeks.
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.