Audit Raises Billing, Staffing Issues by Navigant at King/Drew Medical Center
Navigant Consulting since November 2004 has billed the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services for full monthly payments for its work at Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center, despite some staff being off-site or on vacation, according to an audit by the county auditor-controller released Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Ornstein/Leonard, Los Angeles Times, 6/14).
The county last fall hired Navigant under a one-year, $13.2-million contract to address problems at King/Drew. Navigant in March requested an additional $3.4 million, saying problems were more severe than expected. Last month the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay an additional $1.8 million to Navigant Consulting (California Healthline, 5/11). The firm has made hundreds of recommendations that King/Drew employees be disciplined for inadequate work habits, lapses in medical care and fraud, including lying on timecards, the Times reports.
The audit found that Navigant:
- Did not appear to provide full-time staff at King-Drew as agreed upon;
- Had not implemented almost one-third of the "urgent" recommendations it promised to complete by Feb. 28;
- Had not ensured that King/Drew personnel followed procedures and policies Navigant established;
- Ceased holding recommended daily "huddles" in March for patient case managers, social workers and nurses to discuss the care of each patient; and
- Delayed disciplinary action against some doctors and other employees.
A May 20 letter to Navigant written by county DHS Chief Operating Officer Fred Leaf and obtained by the Times states that several Navigant consultants "do not appear to be on-site for a full five-day workweek but rather are there for two or three days during the week." In the letter, Leaf told Navigant that the county would withhold $41,175 in payments for vacations taken by three senior consultants.
Navigant officials said they are compiling evidence that staff worked the hours for which the company billed the county. Navigant Managing Director Kae Robertson also said the firm has provided more staff than it is being paid for and some workers' time had been substituted for others' time, which the contract permits.
The county board of supervisors on Tuesday was expected to discuss the audit (Los Angeles Times, 6/14).