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Monday, April 21, 2014

CHCC board to convey support for new trustee

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. intends to convey its support for the appointment of Philip Mendiola-Long to the corporation’s board of trustees. If confirmed, Mendiola-Long will be the representative trustee for Tinian.

CHCC board chair Joaquin Torres disclosed to Saipan Tribune his intention to write a letter of support to the Senate Committee of Executive Appointments and Government Investigations, which deferred acting on Mendiola-Long’s appointment last week.

It will be recalled that some lawmakers expressed disappointments about the non-appearance of any official or member of the healthcare corporation when the panel held a confirmation hearing for the new appointee.

Torres explained that board members did not show up because they did not know about the scheduled hearing for Mendiola-Long.

“We were unaware of the scheduled hearing [for Mendiola-Long] because we didn’t receive any information about it. If it’s not too late for the Senate panel, we are happy and willing to send a letter of support from the board,” said Torres.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mendiola-Long will replace Anthony Aguon whose term expired in October. Mendiola-Long’s confirmation will complete the seven-member slot on the CHCC board.

According to Torres, Mendiola-Long’s experience and credentials will surely be an asset to the CHCC board, which serves as an advisory panel to the corporation’s governing body headed by interim CEO Esther Muña.

Other board members are vice chair Pete Dela Cruz, Anthony Raho, Roy Rios, Esther Muña, and Dr. Sherleen Osman.

Meantime, Torres expressed concern about the collection lawsuit filed against the corporation by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. CHCC reportedly owes CUC $9.6 million in utilities since fiscal year 2011.

Torres described the lawsuit as “inappropriate” and that he would seek Gov. Eloy Inos’ intervention.

“This is a case between and against government agencies and we’re hoping that the governor will intervene in this matter because it’s just inappropriate for me,” he told Saipan Tribune Friday.

Instead of filing the case, parties should rather “sit down and compromise” to resolve the issue, he said.

“CHCC is constantly paying its dues and it’s just so surprising that CUC sued our hospital. I was even made to believe that there’s already an understanding between the two agencies. I am really puzzled about this lawsuit,” added Torres.

Based on CUC’s Dec. 10 complaint, it described the hospital as having “failed, refused, and neglected” to pay its dues or any part of its obligations.

Saipan Tribune learned that CHCC is incurring over $500,000 in monthly billing, and that it pays only half of the amount each month.

In an earlier interview with CEO Muña, she admitted that CHCC has not been able to pay CUC in full since 2011 because of the dwindling financial resources of the healthcare agency.

Since it became a corporation in 2011, CHCC has relied on its revenues and collections for its daily operation. The agency used to get $37 million in operational funding from the local budget every fiscal year.

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