Dr. Jeremy Richards is officially out as a member of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board but his replacement, Dr. Daniel Lamar, is not considered a board member and will not be able to vote on board issues.
Corporation board chair Joaquin Torres said yesterday that Lamar only accepted the director for Medical Affairs post in an acting capacity and not as a full-time job as required by corporation bylaws.
Lamar disclosed to Saipan Tribune yesterday that corporation CEO Juan N. Babauta appointed him two weeks ago as temporary director for Medical Affairs, a position that also earns him a seat in the corporation board.
Torres clarified his appointment last Thursday, pointing out that he is not a full board member and there are some issues that need to be deliberated on by board members.
Lamar said he also sent a formal inquiry and talked with Babauta on the status of his appointment, but received no clear response. Yesterday, he said that as far as he is concerned, he is not a member of the corporation board.
Meantime, Torres said yesterday that the only way for Lamar to become a full board member is if he accepts the DMA post as a full-time position, which is a statutory requirement for the board.
“In the corporation bylaws, there's no acting member. So for Dr. Lamar to become a full board member, he has to accept the DMA as full time position. When he was offered [the job] by the CEO, I understand that Dr. Lamar just agreed to serve in an acting capacity. That's the only reason about this issue,” said Torres, adding that Lamar's appointment is not in any way related to any other issues about the corporation, including the “rift” between Babauta and Tinian board member Anthony Aguon.
Aguon recently raised some concerns on the leadership demonstrated by Babauta, who then called on the resignation of the board member. Aguon asked the chairman to call an emergency meeting, which has yet to happen.
Torres said the only time a meeting may be called is if he receives from board members their recommendations on possible solutions to the many concerns of the corporation.
“But right now, we have a more serious issue to address and we need to focus on-the Medicare visit. I even pointed out to them that if any board member is willing to contribute in the preparation of the comprehensive action plan, they are welcome. For now, that is our priority and I don't want to waste the members' time in merely debating and discussing the problems of the hospital over and over again, without possible solution being identified,” he said.
Torres described the issue about Lamar's appointment as a “distraction” and an “unimportant issue” to talk about at a time when the hospital is dealing with serious deficiencies.
Babauta, during the recent anniversary celebration of the hospital, told Saipan Tribune that Richards' resignation was a result of a concern raised by the National Health Service Corps, which is concerned that Richards has been spending more time in his capacity as DMA of the hospital. Richards, a psychiatrist, is a member of the organization. NHSC members are health professionals providing primary health care services in underserved communities. In exchange, the providers are given either loan repayment or scholarship throughout their medical education.