A nonprofit health care provider that is being evicted from a pair of clinic buildings owned by Jefferson Parish’s government has earned a clean financial audit for the third year in a row, prompting the medical group’s leader to again question why it was necessary for officials to throw out her organization.
The audit, completed June 17, found no serious problems with the financial statements of Jefferson Community Health Care Centers, an organization that receives grant money and extra government reimbursements to provide low-cost or free care to indigent patients.
The review also found JCHCC had no issues complying with the various rules and agreements by which it is bound. That was not the case under previous management, the subject of multiple allegations of cronyism and theft.
Audits released in 2014 and 2015 contained similar findings, though they noted a couple of minor issues, such as miscalculating a couple of employees’ severance packages and counting deferred revenue as actual income too early. This time, however, no such weaknesses were identified.
JCHCC Chief Executive Officer Shondra Williams said the clean bill of health showed the organization has been improving steadily since she and her team took over at the end of 2012, following the latest of several audits that found the prior managers had misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like alcohol-soaked parties and interest-free loans for employees.
Nonetheless, there is no indication that the Parish Council is planning to reconsider its vote last month to oust JCHCC from parish-owned buildings in Marrero and River Ridge at the end of July — an action that some have suggested was fueled by politics.
The council last month also passed a resolution asking for statements of qualification from firms interested in treating patients “across the health care spectrum” at those facilities, which JCHCC worked out of rent-free.
The councilman who pushed for the evictions, Mark Spears, has said he moved to cancel the parish’s arrangement with JCHCC because the group refused to accept a new operating contract that could be canceled on 30 days’ notice and would give the parish more flexibility.
JCHCC demanded a lease of at least five years and wouldn’t accept anything less, and that was why the parish moved to stop working with it, said Spears, who represents the district where the buildings in question are located.
JCHCC officials said the reason they were evicted was that they were engaged in legal conflicts with an attorney and a former CEO of the organization who were connected to political allies of Spears.
Spears and others mentioned in the JCHCC allegations all denied the accusations.
Spears also challenged claims by Williams that the eviction means the clinics’ patients will flood local emergency rooms for basic care. He said he will ensure his constituents have adequate health care options.
Whatever the case, JCHCC is preparing to leave both of the buildings by the end of next month, Williams said. She said JCHCC has worked out a lease deal to operate from a privately owned building in Marrero, and it will continue to run clinics out of a facility it rents in Lafitte as well as an office it owns in Avondale.
Spears did not respond to an email seeking comment late last week.
For her part, Williams said she won’t ever understand the dilemma with which JCHCC has been dealing recently.
“We are demonstrating fiscal responsibility of the resources that have been provided,” Williams said. “We have been demonstrating over time that we have put in the effort and resources to clean up the mess that was left by the former administration.”