When the former CEO of the U.S. Pain Foundation, Paul Gileno, was sentenced on Wednesday to a year and one day of imprisonment, we asked the interim CEO, Nicole Hemmenway for an interview to talk about the organization. She has been running the organization since Gileno was fired.
The Foundation has had a black eye…what have you been doing with funders and members to repair this?
As soon as the former CEO’s misappropriation of funds from the U.S. Pain Foundation was discovered, the Board of Directors asked Mr. Gileno to step down and alerted the appropriate legal authorities. The organization cooperated fully in both the initial investigation and resulting criminal prosecution. While Mr. Gileno’s criminal matter was pending, U.S. Pain Foundation sought to account for the missing funds, implemented a robust system of checks and balances and tighter financial controls, appointed a chief financial officer, and new accountant. The organization sought reimbursement for the stolen funds and expects the Court to issue a restitution order in the upcoming weeks.
Throughout the last year and a half, the organization has communicated with its community at each stage of the process by posting updates publicly. While it has taken time to account for the former CEO’s misdeeds and implement new, stronger policies of oversight and controls, the organization has continued serving people with pain through its free programs and services. Over the past year and a half, U.S. Pain Foundation has led more programs, held more events, and provided more support than ever before.
The Foundation has said no one knew what Mr. Gileno was doing. If that’s true what are you doing to improve governance and oversight?
No one presently affiliated with the organization was aware of Mr. Gileno’s misappropriation of funds prior to April 2018, when the Board became aware of the suspected misappropriation and moved swiftly to rectify the situation.
The Board of Directors, which is comprised of people living with pain and their caregivers, recognizes that the organization should have had stronger financial controls in place. Over the past year and half the Board has worked diligently to implement a robust system of checks and balances. These include:
- Detailed requirements for reimbursement of expenses
- A two-step approval process for all disbursements
- The separation of duties and internal controls surrounding all financial transactions, including a review of monthly financial statements, cash flows, program expenditure reports, and the annual budget
- Appointment of a Chief Financial Officer and new accountant
Will he pay back what was said to be stolen from the Foundation and the people they serve?
This is of utmost importance to the U.S. Pain Foundation. The organization is awaiting a restitution order, which will be imposed by the Court in the coming weeks.
Looking forward to the rest of 2019 and beyond, what should we expect from the U.S. Pain Foundation?
In 2019 and beyond, the U.S Pain Foundation aims to expand its direct services through its support group network, Pain Connection, and help even more children living with pain and their families via the Pediatric Pain Warrior program. As always, the organization is dedicated to increasing awareness about chronic pain as a public health crisis through our Pain Awareness Month efforts and the INvisible Project magazine, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020.
In addition, U.S. Pain continues to grow its state and federal advocacy program, with an emphasis on affordable access to multidisciplinary treatment. To do this, we, as an organization, plan to engage and train more pain warriors as patient advocates. Finally, knowledge is power when it comes to pain management. U.S. Pain plans to keep building its library of educational videos, materials, and resources for the pain community. We’d also like to develop and share a standardized set of core educational competencies for people with pain, so that people struggling with chronic pain can find effective care in a timelier manner.
That’s just a sample of what we as an organization are hoping to accomplish. As long as people with pain need us, the U.S. Pain Foundation will be there to serve them. We are so grateful to our community for their continued support as we move forward, stronger than ever.