UConn Health audit raises questions, concerns

A recent state audit report of UConn Health has raised many concerns about the center’s financial responsibility, especially during a time of austerity and budget cuts both for UConn and the state of Connecticut.

The audit revealed costly practices, concerns about compensatory pay, the overpayment of contracts and potentially thousands of pieces of undocumented, lost equipment.

According to the Hartford Courant, in December 2012 a new outpatient center was built in Farmington, financed for $203 million at a 4.8 percent interest rate. Robert Ward and John Geragosian, two state auditors, estimate that over $76.8 million could have been saved if it was financed through state revenue bonds, a more traditional method of financing.

Notable was a lump-sum severance payment of $192,500 to the former CEO of John Dempsey Hospital, who had been earning over $400,000 a year up until that point. Current UConn Health policy indicates that personnel may be given a lump-sum payment in lieu of any notice before being laid off.

Additionally, the audit found that a real estate advisory service was awarded a $320,000 contract that increased exponentially to $1.72 million. The purpose of the advisory service was to aid in arranging the financing for the new Farmington outpatient center.

“Payments made by UConn Health should have some discernable benefit to the institution,” wrote Geragosian and Ward.

Especially given the current budget situation, it is imperative that UConn, especially as a public institution, uses the utmost level of responsibility and planning when making such costly spending decisions. In this way, the money spent by UConn can have the most effective, long-term benefit to the institution and those it serves.