MetroHealth Investigation Finds Allegations of Inappropriate Executive Spending False

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by Sarah Jane Tribble

MetroHealth System terminated its director of internal audit Thursday, a month after he filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

The suit includes allegations that MetroHealth executives spent money inappropriately on travel as well as dermatology treatments. MetroHealth says Simpson Huggins, the now former director of internal audits at the public hospital, was not let go because he raised the concerns about executive spending. 

Instead, MetroHealth Chief Executive Dr. Akram Boutros told the press and his staff Thursday that he couldn't go into details about the dismissal. But he urged staff members to always report any wrongdoing they see to a supervisor. 

Huggins' suit alleges that he found Boutros and the executive's wife spent MetroHealth's money on personal expenses during trips to London, New York, Venice and Abu Dhabi. The suit also claimed that MetroHealth executives and their relatives accepted Botox injections and other services for free at the hospital's dermatology clinic in Pepper Pike.

MetroHealth executives responded quickly last month to the allegations, saying they were false. They hired global consulting firm KPMG to do an external audit. On Thursday, before saying that Huggins had been terminated, Boutros announced the results of that audit. 

"The thorough external investigation we are releasing today found no wrongdoing. Not by MetroHealth and not by me," Boutros says. "We have been exonerated as I knew we would." 

Huggin's attorney Subodh Chandra responded: "Metro should be thanking Mr. Huggins for shining a light on potential misconduct by senior officials but instead Metro has doubled down on its retaliation against Mr. Huggins for blowing the whistle."

Chandra says he plans to formally request the state auditor to do an investigation into the charges. He's also amending the lawsuit against MetroHealth to include a wrongful termination. 

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