A state auditor’s investigation has found more than $16,000 in missing funds that had been donated and set aside on gift cards for patients at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
The investigation, which found a total of more than $17,000 of unaccounted-for money, began after the university contacted the state auditor with concerns about funds managed by Anna Hernandez, an administrative services specialist in the Care Coordination Division at UIHC.
A majority of the missing money was set aside for young cancer patients. That included $9,725, spread among 126 gift cards, for young people with cancer within the “Aiming for a Cure Fund,” according to the auditor’s report released Tuesday. Another $3,600 was to be used for cancer patients under 39 years old in the “Adolescents and Young Adults Fund.”
In August 2020, a UIHC staff member noticed $1,350 of missing gift cards and told Hernandez. Hernandez told the employee not to make report the situation to police, according to the investigation.
Hernandez, an employee of UIHC since 2006, was placed on administrative leave in November and resigned shortly after.
The state auditor found that at least some of the funds had been sent to a PayPal account managed by an individual who knew Hernandez.
“Ms. Hernandez stated that she regularly worked from home on her personal laptop, which wasn’t secured, and that somehow her ex-boyfriend got into systems or accounts that he should not have and made the payments improperly,” the auditor’s report says.
But the auditor also found that physical access to those gift cards was needed to make purchases with them.
“Ms. Hernandez was not authorized to work from home and had not been granted remote access to the Division’s systems,” the report said.
The report by the Office of the Auditor of the State has made its way to various law enforcement agencies, including the Johnson County Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office.
Via email, Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said her office is reviewing the auditor’s report.
“Once we have a chance to review the report and have any follow-up conducted if needed, we will determine if charges should be filed. We have not completed our review at this time,” she said.
Cleo Krejci covers education for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: State finds $16,000 in missing donations meant for UIHC patients