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Friday, April 25, 2014

CHCC board seeks report on Walker’s departure

The squabble that arose in the wake of the departure of the Commonwealth Health Center’s lone hospital orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Grant Walker, has prompted the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board to ask for a detailed report of the incident.

CHCC board chair Joaquin Torres confirmed this yesterday, adding that the board’s request has been relayed to interim CEO Esther Muña and that she is expected to comply with it anytime soon.

Saipan Tribune learned that Muña is currently in the U.S. mainland on official business and will be back next week.

Walker, who was hired on a one-month contract for CHC’s orthopedic department, left yesterday for Idaho.

Walker had earlier announced that he was moving to the private sector in the CNMI but he changed his mind after the corporation’s governing body barred him from using the hospital’s facilities once he is in the private sector. There were also allegations of insubordination, which Walker denied.

Torres said he felt sad about the doctor’s departure and wanted to be enlightened by all the facts behind the story.

“Honestly, I was initially alarmed and felt that it wasn’t made correctly. But after calling the interim CEO, I have better understanding about the issue,” Torres said, adding that he felt more comfortable as soon as he found out that the decision of the governing body was made in consultation with the corporation’s legal counsel.

He said that as soon as the report is turned in, members will be furnished a copy for their information.

Torres said that whenever somebody leaves the hospital, especially doctors, he can’t help but feel sad because he understands the critical need for their services.

“We need to do something to prevent this from happening again. We will ask for a comprehensive review of all the positions and once completed, it will help us to come up with the necessary actions [in such cases],” he added.

As of this month, the corporation has 24 doctors, including one doctor each at the Rota and Tinian clinics. The public hospital needs at least 10 more doctors, including an orthopedic surgeon—a position that has been vacant since the departure of Dr. Ruben Arafiles last year.

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