The Catholic Independent Practice Association in Buffalo, N.Y., last week said it is undergoing an independent audit in light of the alleged misappropriation of funds by its former president and chief executive officer, Stephen Westlake.
Westlake died on Aug. 30 at his home in Wilmington, N.C., soon after being put on administrative leave for failing to turn over financial records for an audit and one day after he was served with legal papers, said Dennis McCarthy, a spokesman for four-hospital Catholic Health System. The 700-member physician practice represents Catholic Health System in managed- care contracting.
Westlake had previously ignored his board's request last April to initiate a routine audit by the Catholic Health Audit Network, which offers Catholic health organizations independent audit services nationwide. The Catholic Independent Practice Association, or CIPA, does not yet know how much money was misappropriated, and it won't for several weeks when what has become a forensic audit is completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, McCarthy said. "We know at this point that appropriate business practices were not followed by Mr. Westlake," he said.
Officials are still awaiting a coroner's report to determine the cause of Westlake's death, McCarthy said.
Westlake headed the practice association since its formation in 1997 until August and held the only executive position in the organization, McCarthy said.
"This is largely a financial matter internal to CIPA and the CHS. It will not affect the delivery of care by CHS facilities or CIPA physicians," McCarthy said. "The unfortunate sequence of events over the last few months will not affect CIPA's financial status or its obligations to its physician members."