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Friday, April 25, 2014

Healthcare Corp. board seeks to keep status quo

The composition of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board will be kept the same despite the change in leadership at the Executive Branch, now headed by Gov. Eloy S. Inos.

Corporation board chair Joaquin Torres told Saipan Tribune that he will not call for the courtesy resignation of board members who were all appointed by former governor Benigno R. Fitial, who stepped down last week.

Torres believes that, although they were appointed by the former governor, each one was confirmed by the Senate.

“I will leave it up to individual members of the board. But as chair of the board of trustees, we’re in status quo. I am not calling for a courtesy resignation of the members. However, if the new governor decides to get rid of us, then we will do so. I don’t think calling for a courtesy resignation from the board is in the best interest of the agency,” said Torres.

The corporation board has seven voting members with four confirmed by the Senate: Torres, Pete Dela Cruz, Anthony Aguon, and Roy Rios. The rest—CEO Juan N. Babauta, staff representative Anthony Raho, and director for Medical Affairs Dr. Sharlene Osman—were appointed pursuant to Public Law 16-51, which created the healthcare corporation.

According to Torres, Inos has been on top of corporation issues even when he was still Fitial’s lieutenant governor. Torres cited several occasions when Inos extended help and his immediate attention to corporation problems. Torres said the board looks forward to working with the Inos administration.

HealthTech report

Meantime, Torres denied yesterday that he instructed the management to ignore the recommendations of HealthTech, a $150,000 study commissioned by the government to assess the public hospital.

Corporation COO Esther Muña had said at a recent board meeting that Torres had instructed her not to follow the report’s recommendations.

Torres showed Saipan Tribune the email exchanges of corporation officials and board members dating back to October last year.

“This chronology of events clearly show that she was not telling the truth when she stated she received instruction from me regarding the HealthTech assessment. I did not at any time ask her or the CEO not to implement the HealthTech recommendations,” Torres said.

In an Oct. 23 email to both COO and CEO, Torres said: “Do we have a team in place to review and take appropriate action on the findings and recommendations of this report? I suggest that we put together this team and have an initial meeting before the end of this week. We need to show that we are serious and that we are taking the necessary action before the governor does it for us.”

At the last board meeting, Torres created a special panel chaired by Osman that will review the HealthTech report. The panel’s recommendation is due on March 7 for board deliberation.

Meantime, the board’s evaluation of Babauta will continue as scheduled. A decision on the CEO’s appointment will be issued March 7. According to Torres, the CEO’s performance evaluation was conducted pursuant to the mandates of Public Law 16-51.

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