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MetroHealth authorizes independent audit in the wake of CEO bonus scandal

MetroHealth sign in front of the MetroHealth main campus in Cleveland, Ohio
Tim Harrison
Ideastream Public Media
MetroHealth's board has already begun making changes to its CEO compensation system, Vanessa Whiting, who chairs the body, wrote in the release.

MetroHealth has authorized an outside firm to review the policies and procedures surrounding the bonuses that led the system to fire its former CEO Dr. Akram Boutros last month, according to a statementreleased Thursday.

“Here are the main marching orders: Investigate how this happened and why it wasn’t discovered earlier,” said Dr. Airica Steed, MetroHealth's new CEO. “We are determined to learn from this and put appropriate controls in place to help prevent anything similar from happening again.”

Since late November, MetroHealth, Cuyahoga County's safety-net hospital, and Boutros have been embroiled in a public dispute over nearly $2 million dollars in bonuses the board says were unauthorized.

The hospital says an internal investigation shows they were justified in firing Boutros with cause and the former CEO could face criminal charges. Boutros sayshe's the victim of retaliation, denies wrongdoing, repaid the bonuses with interest and has sued to nullify his dismissal.

MetroHealth's board has already begun making changes to its CEO compensation system, board chair Vanessa Whiting wrote in the release.

The CEO's annual bonus or incentive pay must now be the subject of a separate board resolution and will be audited and compensation consultants hired to advise on rates of CEO pay must now verify that pay with hospital human resources, rather than relying on data provided by the CEO alone, the release said.

The audit firm will be retained by the law firm Tucker Ellis, which led an internal investigation into the bonuses, according to the media release. The hospital board passed a resolution Friday authorizing the hiring of the firm.

The findings of the audit will be made public, according to the hospital.

Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.