Hospital CEO breaks her silence

Muña: Advisory board role is not to manage day-to-day operation of CHCC

A week after the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board gave its chief executive officer a vote of no-confidence, Esther L. Muna finally broke her silence, saying her actions are all in accordance with the public law that created the corporation, which defines her role as head of the agency.

Muña got the no-confidence vote from four board members during last week’s meeting. A day after, a group of senior medical staffers led by Medical Affairs director Dr. Sherleen Osman rallied behind Muña and issued a joint statement expressing confidence in Muna’s leadership, saying CHC “has evolved and come a long way from where it was 18 months ago.”

“I am humbled by the support of the medical staff and others within and outside the organization. It is their opinion—the opinion of the patients and their families, the community, the medical staff and the rest of the CHCC staff—that matters to me most,” Muña told Saipan Tribune.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos said he would meet with the CHCC board and Muña after learning from reports that the CHC board and Muña “are not on the same page on many of the issues so I might call for a meeting” and “find out what’s going on.”

“I’m satisfied with what she’s doing. I guess if you don’t have her, who do you have right now?” the governor said Friday. “Anything that we do should be in the best interest of the citizens which is to make sure that the healthcare needs of the people are taken care of.”

The governor pointed out, however, that he has yet to know all the details; that’s why he might need to call both parties either to be a mediator or “slam the hammer.”

“As a governor, I’m going to have to do something,” he added.

According to Muña, the board of trustees’ role as an advisory board is very clear in the law and it should be adhered to.

“The advisory board knows that their role is not to govern and manage the day-to-day operations of CHCC. If I don’t call for meetings to get their advice or yield to them so they can manage our operations, I had hoped that they would understand that I’m simply following the law,” Muña said.

It will be recalled that Muña did not participate in the two-day board meeting last week where she was also accused by board members of continuing to ignore their requests for documents and records.

Muna pointed out, though, that “I have walked the halls of the hospital to see how our patients are doing and how busy our physicians and staff are and how difficult it is to work with the little we have. My role is to help them and that is what keeps me up at night. I know the struggles of our patients and our staff because I’m there. That is why I studied and work in health administration.”

What she would like to see, Muña said, is the board’s full support.

“What a wonderful combination it is to have an advisory board, comprised of individuals with business experience to provide financial investment ideas and work with the CEO in bringing the best healthcare to our people who deserve it so much. If they focus on that and I focus on what I need to do, that is achievable,” she said.

The CHCC board earlier said the no-confidence vote was issued as a warning for Muña to start working with them in order to achieve the unified mission of bringing quality healthcare to the public. Trustees accused her of not cooperating with the board.

Being an advisory board, its no-confidence vote against Muña has no legal force and effect.

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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