County leaders fire Kern Medical Center CEO

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Kern County supervisors voted unanimously Monday night to fire Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler.

Shocked supervisors heard Monday about accounting errors and practices. County supervisors learned of KMC's budget problems as they held their regular meeting.

To begin with, administrators at the county-owned hospital over-budgeted by $1.6 million a month for the current fiscal year. That means KMC will run about $9.6 million over budget from July to December.

Additionally, the hospital's new Chief Financial Officer Sandra Martin said a review of the hospital's receivables from as far back as 2006 came up short by about $64 million. Martin said it was due to an accounting error.

To add to the hospital's hemorrhaging, Martin said KMC may have to pay back roughly $27.5 million to the state because of over-payments by the state, based on the hospital's actual costs.

"Who is responsible?" asked Kern County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Maggard, who was visibly exasperated.

Hensler took full responsibility for the situation, saying it was the hospital's "finance people" who had erred.

"It was a lack of proper oversight and laziness in recording things," said Hensler.

"The board has lost confidence in Paul Hensler's ability to continue managing Kern Medical Center," said Maggard in a written statement on behalf of the board following the board's decision to fire the hospital CEO.

The hospital will work with a consulting firm to reconstruct financial estimates from previous years that were never recorded, to help get its finances back in order.

But, collateral damage is likely to result as a consequence. That's because county supervisors will have to find a way to make up the loss. That could mean cutting back on county services or programs or cutting from other departments.