BAKERSFIELD - The county fired Kern Medical Center's C.E.O., but that doesn't mean it's not paying him. County officials say Paul Hensler will get his full salary and benefits until the end of his contract next April.
The County Administrator's Office said over the next seven months Hensler will be paid $227,000 plus benefits.
Paul Hensler was the C.E.O. of KMC for six years, but Tuesday he was fired, after the hospital revealed it faces a $64 million shortfall because of years of budget blunders.
"Ultimately, Paul Hensler was to blame," said Leticia Perez, Kern County Supervisor.
The County Administrator's Office said Hensler will collect a check every two weeks for the remainder of his approximately $395,000 annual salary.
Although the county holds Hensler responsible, KMC staff agree he isn't the accountant who dug KMC's fiscal hole. County officials said KMC had a slew of chief financial officers since the financial troubles began.
"That's no secret," said Supervisor Perez.
In 2005, KMC hired a budget analyst from the County Administrator's Office, Tom Willman. He retired in 2006. From 2006 to 2007, the county hired an outside organization, Camden Group. In 2007, the county hired another budget analyst from the CAO's office, Fred Plane. He retired in 2011.
From 2011 to 2013, Bob Bainbridge served as the acting C.F.O. The County Administrator's Office said Bainbridge still works at KMC but was placed on administrative leave for unknown reasons.
Houshang Abd was was hired in January of this year and served as C.F.O. until July when he resigned. Instead of passing blame, however, the county says they want to move on.
"We can fix blame, but I think we want to fix the problem," said John Nilon, Kern County Administrator.
The county says fixing the problem may require hiring a new auditor. The County Administrator's Office says Brown Armstrong audited the hospital every year from 2005 to 2012, with the exception of 2007, with a total cost of around $414,000. Brown Armstrong said it could not comment because it is still discussing a response. KMC said Brown Armstrong did not sign off on the 2012 audit because they noticed financial issues.
"I'd like to move forward, fix the problem and put KMC in the best possible position," said Supervisor Perez.
The board is hoping from now on it will appoint and supervise C.F.O.'s. The board is planning to appoint an interim C.E.O. Tuesday and work on budget solutions in a couple weeks.