Nova Scotia

IWK Foundation wants public to know it's separate from IWK Health Centre

The IWK Foundation is going public with a message that it had nothing to do with the expense scandal that has engulfed the IWK Health Centre and its board of directors.

'The recent events have been very sad,' says IWK Foundation CEO about expense scandal

Jennifer Gillivan is the president and CEO of the IWK Foundation. (CBC)

The IWK Foundation is going public with a message that it had nothing to do with the expense scandal that has engulfed the IWK Health Centre and its board of directors.

In late August, the CEO of the IWK Health Centre stepped down one week before an independent audit revealed she expensed some $47,000 in personal charges to the IWK for things like air travel, hotel costs, data overages and car rentals.

Tracy Kitch repaid the final amount of outstanding money that she owed on Wednesday

"The recent events have been very sad and it's been hard on the whole IWK family," said foundation president and CEO Jennifer Gillivan in an interview with CBC.

The foundation is a non-profit organization governed by a separate board of trustees and its donations go directly toward patient care, not the day-to-day operations of the IWK Health Centre, which are paid for by Nova Scotia taxpayers.

Former IWK CEO Tracy Kitch used a corporate credit card for a variety of personal charges, as well as billed personal travel to the hospital. (Career Women Interaction)

Asked if the foundation's board operates with more rigour than that of the IWK, Gillivan said she couldn't comment on the IWK's practices, but she said the foundation is "very careful, we have very strict guidelines, policies processes in place and we adhere to them."

Gillivan said the foundation hasn't experienced a drop in donations as a result of the scandal, but said officials have received many calls from people wondering about how donation money is used and managed.

She said that over the last five years, the foundation has spent anywhere from 28 to 30 cents for every dollar raised on administration.

Foundation is 'very important to our province,' says premier

Premier Stephen McNeil said he hopes people distinguish between the foundation and the IWK.

"This is an important Atlantic Canadian institution, it's very important to our province, for our children, for women's health, so we want to make sure that ... Atlantic Canadians fully understand that that money is directed and is being used for equipment and support inside the facility," he said.

Nova Scotia's auditor general announced his office will examine the IWK's books and practices, and the hospital's board has referred the matter of Kitch's expenses to Halifax Regional Police.

The hospital's top financial official, Stephen D'Arcy, has also been swept up by the expense scandal. He resigned last week, just two weeks after he was placed on paid leave.