The governing body of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has yet to act on the decision of its board of trustees to issue a 90-day renewable medical privilege to the public hospital’s former orthopedic surgeon.
CHCC board resolution 2014-02, which was passed on April 23, mandated the governing body—headed by CEO Esther Muña—to comply with the board resolution within 10 days after the adoption of the order. Yet up to now, the governing body has yet to provide one to Dr. Grant Walker, the Idaho-based physician whose medical privilege at CHC was terminated last year.
CHCC board chair Joaquin Torres confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday the governing body’s lack of action. However, he assured that the issue will be among the agenda in an upcoming board meeting where the board will ask for an explanation from the governing body.
When asked to comment, Walker confirmed receiving no correspondence or notice from the governing body about any action on the board resolution.
However, he told Saipan Tribune that “I have been informed that after 10 days, Resolution 2014-02 stands, along with 90 days of my initial privileges.” He did not elaborate on who informed him about this.
The physician also expressed his opinion about Public Law 16-51, which created the corporation.
“Under Public Law 16-51, only the CEO and the board of trustees have legislative authority, just like every other U.S. hospital. P.L. 16-51 states that the board of trustees is advisory except and it goes on to list those exceptions. One of those exceptions is in credentialing, and they are given powers,” he told Saipan Tribune in an email yesterday.
Walker also disclosed his plans of returning to the CNMI soon.
The CHCC board of trustees earlier ruled in favor of Walker, after it found that the physician was denied due process when his medical privilege was terminated by the corporation’s governing body days before his contract’s expiration.
Medical privilege allows a physician to use the treatment facilities of the public hospital for their surgeries and operation. Upon losing this privilege, a doctor—whether in public or private clinics— cannot operate or provide services to clients.
CHCC hired Walker from Idaho in October last year to serve as the hospital’s orthopedic surgeon for 30 days. But prior to his contract’s expiration, the governing body terminated his medical privileges due to a host of issues, including alleged unprofessional conduct and insubordination.
The board resolution specifically ordered the corporation’s governing body to grant Walker a 90-day renewable medical privilege or show cause why the physician should not be granted such privilege.
It was earlier revealed that based on policy, when one is terminated, he/she has the right to a hearing and even after the hearing, there’s an appeal process. The board earlier said that none of these were done in Walker’s case.
It was also learned that credentialing policy dictates that the authorized committee has 90 days to act on any application for medical privilege.
Walker filed an application since November last year, but no decision has been made to date.