May 2, 2010

Audit: State hospital didn’t report drug theft to AG

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By Erich Wagner
Erich@MarylandReporter.com

State auditors say the Western Maryland Center, a state-run hospital in Hagerstown, did not tell the attorney general’s office about the theft of controlled dangerous substances by a former employee.

The report said that although the employee had resigned by the time the incident was discovered, an executive order requires that “all departments and agencies of the state immediately refer to the Office of the Attorney General and to the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel any instance of possible criminal or unethical conduct by any employee.”

Auditors also reported that at times the hospital spent money not included in its budget or approved by the Department of Health and Mental Hygene, including $3,400 in gift cards, $3,000 in catering for a holiday party and $8,795 to obtain permanent U.S. residency for an employee.

And the hospital did not solicit competitive bids for a $24,000 communication system or for psychological services totaling $71,000. State procurement regulations require that bids be obtained from at least two vendors for expenses of over $5,000.

The Western Maryland Center agreed with all of auditors’ recommendations, adding that the hospital has revised its policies for the destruction of controlled dangerous substances to help prevent theft. The hospital also said that it would investigate the unapproved expenditures and follow state regulations in the future.

In regard to the uncompetitive contracts for vendors, the Western Maryland Center said it “is now consistently complying with state procurement regulations when procuring goods and services.”