‘Hospital complaints, concerns new panel’s top priority’

Posted on Dec 30 2011

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board will form an ethics committee that will give review priority to all complaints lodged against the hospital, its personnel, and related services.

Acting board chair Pedro Dela Cruz and chief executive officer Juan N. Babauta disclosed this after Wednesday’s board meeting, where they initially discussed the panel’s creation.

The new committee will be composed of members of the corporation board and hospital staff, to be determined at their next meeting. The ethics committee, according to Dela Cruz, will function as a special committee within the board.

“The primary objective of this ethics committee is to review complaints against the hospital or some personnel—at all levels—from outside the community. We will take those complaints to this panel for review and will seek recommendation [for our decision],” Babauta said.

Dela Cruz and Babauta emphasized, however, that a formal letter of complaint or grievance must be submitted by the complainant in order for the complaint to be deemed valid. That way, the committee will be able to weed out frivolous claims and unfounded allegations, they said, adding that there’s no way the panel will entertain complaints from anonymous sources.

They promised that the committee would give a fair and objective review of all complaints before any action is taken by the board or the CEO.

The chairman cited complaints of unethical practices by certain doctors and nurses as among the examples of concerns that the panel will seriously deal with.

“Because of the smallness of our community, there is a familial relationship among us and therefore, it is prudent to conduct a fair and objective process [on issues and concerns that are brought to us],” said Dela Cruz.

According to Babauta, the review process by the ethics panel will be properly coordinated with the corporation’s human resource office to ensure compliance with all the in-house policies and regulations. At present, the CEO said there is a policy in place for dealing and addressing grievances.

Babauta disclosed that the corporation is also in the process of revisiting existing policies and regulation for possible amendments.

Despite serious concerns uncovered in the Commonwealth Health Center’s operation and services as a result of lack of physicians and inadequate services, the then Department of Public Health claimed that there were only a very few formal complaints that have been filed against the center—only five in 2009 and only one formal complaint in 2010.

Saipan Tribune learned that these complaints were received from the complaint boxes located in different sections of the hospital. There are some years, however, when the complaint boxes remained empty.

The health department first enforced the policy for patients’ grievances in 2005.

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.