Several months after leaving the hospital, Esther Muña is back after being hired as the new chief operating officer of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
Muña is the hospital's former chief financial officer and was acting deputy secretary for hospital administration for many years at the then-Department of Public Health. She resigned in December last year, just months after the new corporation management took over in October.
Corporation board chair Joaquin Torres confirmed yesterday the appointment of Muña as the new COO, the second highest official at the corporation next to CEO Juan N. Babauta.
Muña replaces Jim Phillips, who was fired after a controversial contract with the Idaho-based International Consulting Services.
Torres said he is confident that Muña can do a better job as COO because of her valuable knowledge and expertise in hospital operation.
Muña was named the governor's special adviser on Medicaid program soon after she left the corporation last year.
The new terms of her contract remain unknown as of press time. Calls and inquiries for both Babauta and Muña about this latest appointment were not returned yesterday.
Torres described Muna's return to the hospital as welcome news. However, he said he was only made aware of this latest appointment this week by corporation staff. He said he received no official notification from Babauta about it.
He acknowledged that the board is only an “advisory” one and has no final say on any decision about hospital operation but he believes that providing “courtesy” to the board is key to creating a good relationship between the board and management.
Muña has served the public hospital for 20 years in various capacities. She officially left the hospital on Jan. 10 this year. Muna was paid $49,500 per annum as the hospital's chief financial officer until she quit.