DALLAS — Federal regulators have determined that mismanagement of a Dallas County health agency jeopardized the funding for services critical to thousands of HIV and AIDS patients.

Inspectors found numerous areas of concern within a division of Dallas County Health and Human Services that oversees the disbursement of some $17 million in federal money to various nonprofits that provide services to the patients.

Among the problems were county staffers who were slow to renew contracts, resulting in funding delays for the nonprofits. The findings by federal regulators during a visit last month were outlined in an internal county memo obtained by The Dallas Morning News .

County Commissioner John Wiley Price said some patients had to wait weeks for medications that they should have had within days.

“This is life or death,” Price said. “There are people in this community whose lives depend on us. This is unacceptable.”

Inspectors also found the county lacked a system to properly monitor the care that’s provided by the nonprofits to about 9,000 HIV and AIDS patients. County staffers, meanwhile, “had a general disconnect” from their job duties.

The findings didn’t surprise some organizations that provide care for patients.

“Last year it was May before we received our contracts on grants that began in March,” Bernie Keasler, chief financial officer of AIDS Services of Dallas, told the newspaper. This year’s contract should have begun March 1, Keasler said, but more than a month later “we’re still arguing over budgets.”

Judge Clay Jenkins, the county’s top administrator, declined multiple interview requests by the newspaper but said in a statement that he shares the concerns of federal regulators. He called for a series of remedies that include “structural strengthening” of the program and the administration of Health and Human Services.


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com