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UCSD’s prep school Covid testing doesn't pay the bills

Soon-Shiong rents out South Africa facility

UCSD’s homegrown Covid testing operation, called EXCITE, has come in for criticism from the school’s auditors, who say in a newly released report that a slew of past due accounts has gone uncollected for months.
UCSD’s homegrown Covid testing operation, called EXCITE, has come in for criticism from the school’s auditors, who say in a newly released report that a slew of past due accounts has gone uncollected for months.

UCSD’s costly EXCITE tests

It was supposed to be a genius move: take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic by offering virus testing to well-heeled private schools by the region’s biggest name in medicine. But now UCSD’s homegrown Covid testing operation, called EXCITE (short for Expedited COVID-19 IdenTification Environment), has come in for criticism from the school’s auditors, who say in a newly released report dated June 23 that a slew of past due accounts has gone uncollected for months.

“The intent from inception was that one of the core functions of the EXCITE lab would be COVID testing for the Campus, with services for employees and patients provided by [UCSD Health],” according to the document.

Louise Laurent was EXCITE-d to see UCSD at the front line.

But those plans apparently changed. “The EXCITE Lab had its first clients in October 2020, and currently approximately 80% of their clients are external and the remaining 20% internal UCSD business.” Adds the report, “We evaluated a sample of billing activity totaling $543,575, or 95% of the total outstanding charges of $574,314 from October 2020 to November 30, 2021.” The results were not good. “In our review of ten client accounts, including eight external and two internal, we noted that five were not billed and over 90 days past due, three were collected but not yet reconciled, and only two client accounts were fully collected and reconciled.”

But obtaining the overdue payments is likely going to cost the university considerably more money, the report suggests. “The current resources do not appear adequate to effectively and efficiently manage these accounts. Additional support for this area should be considered to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of billing and reconciliation.”

The audit is silent regarding the identity of the deadbeats. But November 11, 2020, coverage by the La Jolla Light quotes professor Louise Laurent, vice chairwoman for translational research in obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, as saying the purpose of the EXCITE lab “is to provide large-scale COVID testing to frontline responders and educational institutions.”

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Adds the dispatch, “The lab also is providing testing for UC San Diego’s ‘Return to Learn’ program, as well as the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.” According to the Light, “La Jolla Country Day School, The Bishop’s School, San Diego French-American School, and The Evans School, all private schools in La Jolla, have signed on to test their staff and students. Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego also is participating.” Per the piece: “Fred Wu, chief medical officer for Scripps Health Inpatient Providers, acted as the liaison to help get the EXCITE program into area private schools, with the eventual goal of seeing the program throughout public schools, he said.”

Soon-Shiong’s downward split

Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, has been dealing with trouble in his sprawling biotech empire, raising doubts about how long he will be willing or able to subsidize the newspaper side of his business. The stock price of shares in Soon-Shiong’s NantHealth corporation has dropped so low that the Nasdaq stock exchange has threatened to ban the company from trading, reports the Triangle Business Journal of Raleigh-Durham North Carolina.

Patrick Soon-Shiong: it’s tough out there for a mogul.

Soon-Shiong moved NantHealth there from California last year. “The company’s stock closed Friday at $0.44 a share, down about 59 percent from the beginning of the year. Its 52-week high is $5.21,” says the Business Journal’s September 5 account.

Soon-Shiong owns about 62 percent of the shares. While he appeals the delisting, the company’s board has signed off on a so-called reverse stock split, in which 15 shares will become one, in order to keep each share’s value above an exchange-mandated $1 threshold, forestalling delisting while the appeal is in process.

“NantHealth fell out of compliance after its stock traded below $1 for 30 consecutive business days. Under Nasdaq rules, the company was given an initial 180 days to regain compliance, a window that closed Aug. 17. NantHealth did not regain compliance during the six-month window and was informed Aug. 18 that its stock could be suspended from trading on the Nasdaq.”

Yet another Soon-Shiong venture has failed to live up to its early billing. Bloomberg News Service broke the news August 23 that a portion of the wealthy L.A. physician’s Covid-19 vaccine-making plant in Cape Town South Africa is being put up for rent. “One of the two buildings in the A-grade facility with modern offices and a warehouse is available for lease as the owners of the campus wait for ‘their production requirements to scale up,’” according to Shane Howe, Broll Property Group’s regional head of industrial broking.

The plans are still in the design phase, and nothing is being produced yet, he said.

“Meanwhile, the U-T’s Labor Day edition on September 5, which was not printed and distributed, but was instead provided to subscribers via a PDF posted on the paper’s website, managed to muster a total of three display advertisements, compared to six in last year’s September 6 Labor Day run.

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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UCSD’s homegrown Covid testing operation, called EXCITE, has come in for criticism from the school’s auditors, who say in a newly released report that a slew of past due accounts has gone uncollected for months.
UCSD’s homegrown Covid testing operation, called EXCITE, has come in for criticism from the school’s auditors, who say in a newly released report that a slew of past due accounts has gone uncollected for months.

UCSD’s costly EXCITE tests

It was supposed to be a genius move: take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic by offering virus testing to well-heeled private schools by the region’s biggest name in medicine. But now UCSD’s homegrown Covid testing operation, called EXCITE (short for Expedited COVID-19 IdenTification Environment), has come in for criticism from the school’s auditors, who say in a newly released report dated June 23 that a slew of past due accounts has gone uncollected for months.

“The intent from inception was that one of the core functions of the EXCITE lab would be COVID testing for the Campus, with services for employees and patients provided by [UCSD Health],” according to the document.

Louise Laurent was EXCITE-d to see UCSD at the front line.

But those plans apparently changed. “The EXCITE Lab had its first clients in October 2020, and currently approximately 80% of their clients are external and the remaining 20% internal UCSD business.” Adds the report, “We evaluated a sample of billing activity totaling $543,575, or 95% of the total outstanding charges of $574,314 from October 2020 to November 30, 2021.” The results were not good. “In our review of ten client accounts, including eight external and two internal, we noted that five were not billed and over 90 days past due, three were collected but not yet reconciled, and only two client accounts were fully collected and reconciled.”

But obtaining the overdue payments is likely going to cost the university considerably more money, the report suggests. “The current resources do not appear adequate to effectively and efficiently manage these accounts. Additional support for this area should be considered to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of billing and reconciliation.”

The audit is silent regarding the identity of the deadbeats. But November 11, 2020, coverage by the La Jolla Light quotes professor Louise Laurent, vice chairwoman for translational research in obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, as saying the purpose of the EXCITE lab “is to provide large-scale COVID testing to frontline responders and educational institutions.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Adds the dispatch, “The lab also is providing testing for UC San Diego’s ‘Return to Learn’ program, as well as the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.” According to the Light, “La Jolla Country Day School, The Bishop’s School, San Diego French-American School, and The Evans School, all private schools in La Jolla, have signed on to test their staff and students. Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego also is participating.” Per the piece: “Fred Wu, chief medical officer for Scripps Health Inpatient Providers, acted as the liaison to help get the EXCITE program into area private schools, with the eventual goal of seeing the program throughout public schools, he said.”

Soon-Shiong’s downward split

Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, has been dealing with trouble in his sprawling biotech empire, raising doubts about how long he will be willing or able to subsidize the newspaper side of his business. The stock price of shares in Soon-Shiong’s NantHealth corporation has dropped so low that the Nasdaq stock exchange has threatened to ban the company from trading, reports the Triangle Business Journal of Raleigh-Durham North Carolina.

Patrick Soon-Shiong: it’s tough out there for a mogul.

Soon-Shiong moved NantHealth there from California last year. “The company’s stock closed Friday at $0.44 a share, down about 59 percent from the beginning of the year. Its 52-week high is $5.21,” says the Business Journal’s September 5 account.

Soon-Shiong owns about 62 percent of the shares. While he appeals the delisting, the company’s board has signed off on a so-called reverse stock split, in which 15 shares will become one, in order to keep each share’s value above an exchange-mandated $1 threshold, forestalling delisting while the appeal is in process.

“NantHealth fell out of compliance after its stock traded below $1 for 30 consecutive business days. Under Nasdaq rules, the company was given an initial 180 days to regain compliance, a window that closed Aug. 17. NantHealth did not regain compliance during the six-month window and was informed Aug. 18 that its stock could be suspended from trading on the Nasdaq.”

Yet another Soon-Shiong venture has failed to live up to its early billing. Bloomberg News Service broke the news August 23 that a portion of the wealthy L.A. physician’s Covid-19 vaccine-making plant in Cape Town South Africa is being put up for rent. “One of the two buildings in the A-grade facility with modern offices and a warehouse is available for lease as the owners of the campus wait for ‘their production requirements to scale up,’” according to Shane Howe, Broll Property Group’s regional head of industrial broking.

The plans are still in the design phase, and nothing is being produced yet, he said.

“Meanwhile, the U-T’s Labor Day edition on September 5, which was not printed and distributed, but was instead provided to subscribers via a PDF posted on the paper’s website, managed to muster a total of three display advertisements, compared to six in last year’s September 6 Labor Day run.

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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Comments
4

Matt Potter is on an endless one-man death-watch for signs of the demise of billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong's newspaper enterprises that include the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune. Maybe he should celebrate that these institutions continue, perhaps diminished but unbowed. Unlike the Reader, at least they still review movies.

Oct. 5, 2022

Agreed. His articles on any and all topics are an unusual, perhaps unique blend of nihilism and schadenfreude.

Oct. 6, 2022

Oh gosh, I like "agreed" but will have to look up those other fancy words.

Oct. 6, 2022

Wow.you really have some sad issues. Good luck in getting help.

Oct. 7, 2022

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