Four of the five members of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board were dismayed yesterday over what they described as the continued failure of corporation CEO Esther Muña to work with them.
CHCC board chair Joaquin Torres, vice chair Pete Dela Cruz, and trustees Philip Mendiola-Long and Roy Rios criticized the absence of Muña, acting CFO Cora Ada, and director for Medical Affairs Dr. Sherleen Osman from yesterday’s board meeting. The three were marked as “absent.”
The agenda for yesterday’s meeting included a host of items, mostly reports due from management. Among these are the updates on finances, line of credit, unpaid obligations to vendors, and hiring updates.
But to the disappointment of the four board members, Muña opted not to participate in the meeting and requests for her to send representatives were ignored.
“A lot of these reports have been requested for over several months and I am quite disappointed with the continuing failure to produce these reports, which are important information in order for the board to provide proper advice,” said Torres.
Vice chair Dela Cruz said that by the looks of it, there’s no sense of urgency on the part of management to resolve issues at the hospital.
Mendiola-Long said the issue of both the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and Marianas Public Land Trust are on the “verge of collapse” and warrant immediate action. Without the necessary information from the CEO, there’s nothing the board can do to help find a proper solution, he added.
CUC earlier threatened to disconnect power from the hospital’s non-essential services if it fails to pay in full its monthly billing by June 30.
On the MPLT issue, it was disclosed yesterday that the corporation can’t drawdown from its $4 million line of credit with MPLT until it hires a CFO.
Without pertinent information, Mendiola-Long said “it is almost impossible for us to have strategic planning, much less a budget, if we can’t even create the foundation. We need to make sure the foundation is strong and in order for us to do that, it’s either the CEO coming to us with solution [or] have [the board] offer those solutions for her because that’s our role as an advisory board.”
Mendiola-Long said each trustee was appointed because of their management skills that could help the health agency manage its operations. But without the cooperation of the CEO, there continues to be a disconnect in the organization.
“My point is, it’s glaringly quiet. We see issues on CUC, MPLT, personnel, lawsuits, labor issues…but nothing is being communicated to us in a forward-moving motion,” he added.
Mendiola-Long further expressed frustration over management’s inaction on one issue that, for so long, should have already been addressed.
“I’ve been on the board for three months and we haven’t hired a CFO? It doesn’t make sense to me and I am just blown away by that. On top of that, CUC has come in and given us an ultimatum and we haven’t been called to a meeting to see how we can help,” he said, adding that he gets to know about specific issues only through the media.
The board, he said, needs someone to help through the “process.”
“The process is the critical component here. However, even if we go through the process, if the CEO just determines whether she wants to invoke it or not…what’s the use of the process? I am really confused on what our role is and what we’re supposed to do here. I feel like it’s just saying, ‘Shut up until you are asked for your opinion here,’” added Mendiola-Long on the role of the advisory board.
He admitted that he had plans of resigning as a trustee.
“I just got off the phone with the AG and I basically said I am not comfortable here anymore. I am to the point of resigning…that’s how bad this is here. I was being asked to hold a fiduciary role yet I am serving with members that say they have no decision-making authority in the process. The only reason I continue to stay on is because I see how bad it is and I know I can contribute something,” he said.