Former University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics employee investigated over $17K in missing donations

A report, submitted by State Auditor Rob Sand on Tuesday, was requested by University of Iowa officials over concerns related to unaccounted for financial transactions.


Grace Kreber

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is seen on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

Rachel Schilke, Senior Print Editor

University of Iowa officials requested an investigation into UI Hospitals and Clinics’ Care Coordination Division on Tuesday for over $17,000 in missing donations.

The missing donations regarded transactions processed by former Administrative Services Specialist Anna Hernandez, who joined UIHC in 2006 and took on her former job in 2018. She was placed on administrative leave in November 2020 for fund discrepancies and resigned from her position on Nov. 30 of that year.

Hernandez was also arrested in January 2021 for misappropriating nearly $75,000 as the lone member of the Fox Hollow Condominium Owner’s Association. Over the course of a year, she wrote checks to herself, withdrew cash, and made purchases and wire transfers. 

The state auditor’s report stated that the $17,146.65 missing donations could be broken down into:

  • $16,115 of unaccounted for gift cards
  • $153.99 of improper disbursements/purchases
  • $377.66 of unsupported disbursements and
  • $500 of undeposited collections

Of the unaccounted for gift cards, $9,725 was for the Aiming for a Cure Fund and $3,600 was for the Adolescents and Young Adults Fund. Other gift cards included those for the Cancer Consortium Fund, Loren Arp Fund, Miscellaneous General Fund, and gift cards unassigned to a specific fund.

The $500 in undeposited collections could not be traced to a deposit recorded by the university, the report stated.

“The University of Iowa requested the audit by the Office of Auditor of State, after discovering the initial discrepancies,” UIHC spokesperson Laura Shoemaker said. “The University of Iowa takes seriously its fiduciary responsibility to spend taxpayer, research and charitable dollars wisely and has several procedures in place to ensure this happens.”

Improper purchases or disbursements were classified as such if they were personal in nature or not reasonable enough to be for the Care Coordination Division, which Hernandez worked for.

In conducting the report, the auditor’s team interviewed both university and division staff and Hernandez herself to understand how she carried out her job at UIHC. The report covered transactions and procedures from Aug. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2020.

The gift cards in question were given to hospital patients that meet certain criteria, the report stated, to be distributed through the proper fund. Gift cards received are locked in a drawer in the Care Coordination Division’s office. 

Hernandez’s job was to maintain the gift card inventory and track their use, making sure the amounts were deposited into the correct UIHC account. She then would forward gift card requests to another Care Coordination Division member to complete a purchase.

According to the report, in August 2020, an individual at UIHC found six $150 VISA gift cards and nine $50 VISA gift cards missing from the Adolescents and Young Adult Fund. After reporting this $1,350 discrepancy to Hernandez, she instructed the individual not to report it to the UI Department of Public Safety. 

“According to staff, during their review of various inventory sheets which were to be a complete listing of gift cards for each fund, the lists appeared to have been significantly modified with rows deleted,” the report stated.

During the interview with Hernandez on April 13, the report stated, she was unable to provide explanations regarding the $16,115 in missing gift cards.

Hills Bank provided payments made to Walmart, fast food, fuel vendors, and payments made through PayPal to two individuals — rayspringer and jennaashon. The PayPal payments amounted to 10 missing gift cards totaling $744.12.

Springer, according to UIHC staff interviewed for the audit, is a friend of Hernandez. Hernandez, however, said her ex-boyfriend requested that she send the PayPal payments to Springer and that she had no idea who Ray Springer was. 

She added that she regularly worked from home on a personal laptop, and it was possible her ex-boyfriend “got into systems or accounts that he should not have and made the payments improperly,” the report stated.

“As a result, it is apparent the 10 missing gift cards listed… were used for personal reasons,” the report stated.

Hernandez, like all UIHC employees, was given a University Pcard to make purchases for Care Coordination Division operations, including gift cards for patients. The card was also used for books, supplies, recognition items, conference registration, membership renewals, and travel arrangements.

The report identified several improper purchases on Hernandez’s Pcard, including a $3.99 Amazon purchase of the Quran shipped to her personal residence on July 2, 2014, and a $50 fuel purchase in Lamoni, Iowa, on January 18, 2013. There was no reported or scheduled division trip in that area during that time.

Other purchases included yoga sessions amounting to $209 and a $106.46 purchase at Backpocket Brewing, the report stated.

Hernandez also removed a $100 petty cash voucher but did not leave a receipt, with UIHC staff stating in their interview with the auditor that Hernandez told them she would provide one if asked.

The report did not state if or how UIHC will recover the missing funds, but provided recommendations to the UIHC Care Coordination Division on how to disburse gift cards and maintain an inventory, periodically comparing purchases to records.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from UIHC spokesperson Laura Shoemaker.

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