CHCC, government failed but the church saved us


Yes, Esther Muña may have had every legal reason to do all the things she has done, from firing Vince to locking the doors and closing the Kagman Community Health Center. But not everything that is legal is right. But big thanks to Fr. Jesse and Santa Soledad parish for coming to the rescue of the KCHC.

Muña came out telling everyone the board supported her decisions and I wonder how that happened when the chair even said Muña was wrong for firing Vince. The board is supposed to be leading, not following Muña, who has been wrong from the start by firing Vince. She even promised to work with KCHC in transferring the resources but the first thing she does is lock the doors and put guards on duty. Yes, there are a lot of valuable medical equipment in the clinic but they weren’t going anywhere. If fact, the feds are the ones who purchased the resources, not CHCC, so if the feds are not complaining, why is Muña fussing about protecting resources? Muña even gave the impression the resources would stay at the clinic but now she wants to take the resources back. This is about vindictive leadership, not poor communications.

When the story first broke that the KCHC was going to be independent, the governor, Muña and the CHCC board were talking about how good of an idea it was. The governor even promised the staff at KCHC and publicly that he would make sure the clinic would remain open, with no interruption in services to the patients. Well, I guess we now know the governor has been made a liar. I know the governor can’t be happy about what has happened and I hope he will do something to fix the problem and vindicate himself ASAP. The governor could have easily used an executive order to direct the Department of Public Lands to simply wait before doing anything official, as this was not a time-sensitive issue for DPL to address. But it seems DPL expedited their involvement that may have contributed to help Muña with shutting down the clinic. The governor was even undermined by his own administration. The governor should have put some DPS officers out there to keep CHCC out and the resources in, so the clinic would definitely have stayed open, but I guess he didn’t think it would get this ugly. We can only wait to see what he will do about this.

The board, whose chair said Muña couldn’t fire Vince, is now in support of everything she has done. The CHCC board actually approved of Muña, closing the clinic with new locks. Prior to the clinic being closed, CHCC had multiple staff inventorying the KCHC for several days even though it was only an eight-hour job for two people. I worked for an inventory firm during the summer when I was in school and, as small as that center is, it would not take many people that many days it took the CHCC staff. I think anyone with common sense knows the physical resources of the clinic were not going anywhere and were not in any jeopardy of being damaged or stolen. For the board to buy this BS from Muña of protecting resources shows how gullible the board has gotten. I think the board has gotten their purpose mixed up thinking they work for Muña when they really work for the hospital and the people who are patients of KCHC whom they failed miserably! The CHCC board is quickly destroying their integrity and character and any confidence the public may have for the board. Just because you have the law on your side won’t save the board or Muña in the long run if this is the best they can do. Maybe it’s time for the heat to be turned up on the CHCC board, like the CUC board that was annihilated.

CHCC had the right to take their resources if desired but they didn’t have a right to put locks on the doors and close down the clinic. This thing of protection of CHCC resources is a bunch of…. The resources are now just sitting there, benefitting no one and no official transfer as Muña has decided differently now. Taking the clinic’s resources is not going to help or improve CHCC at all but it will surely hurt the clinic and patients. Muña is only fooling the board, not the people with common sense and certainly not the governor whom she and the board have made look bad by closing the clinic.

Readers need to know that a meeting was scheduled for only the CHCC and KCHC boards to work out a solution. The KCHC board showed up and some representatives who were concerned but the lawmakers were asked to leave and they did. The CHCC board showed up with Muña and their attorney and neither one of them left. The meeting ended up being a platform for Muña to complain about the KCHC and virtually nothing about transferring resources and fixing the problem. It was just a set up for Muña to persuade the CHCC board to follow her and it worked! The meeting was supposed to have been about finding solutions, not KCHC defending itself.

Ambrose M. Bennett
Kagman, Saipan

Contributing Author

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