Health News

Healthcare privatization row in Saipan comes out in the open (3)

By Lyn Lirio

Vince Castro. Image © Flickr

VINCE Castro is no longer the executive director of the Kagman Community Health Center, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Chief Executive Officer Esther Muña.

This was learned as the row between the two primary health care institutions in Saipan continues.

Castro was replaced effective immediately by Derek Sasamoto last April 4 as acting executive director of the center “until further notice.” Muña declined to discuss the reason for Castro’s firing.
Reporters were unable to get a comment from Castro. He earlier bared that the KCHC will operate independently of CHCC effective May 1.

KCHC board chair Velma Palacios, meanwhile, insists that Muña has no authority to fire the executive director because he reports to the board.

Muña said the CHCC management and the board of trustees support the center’s plan to operate independently “but not the process of doing it behind our back.”

She added, “We accept that they are separating. We want to make sure that there will be a smooth transition. We need to appoint somebody who understands…the financial aspect of the transition to make sure that the interests of both parties are addressed.”

CHCC’s interest must be considered, Muña said.

“We have to make sure that there is an understanding about the need to protect assets that we purchased over the years.”

(File Photo) Esther Muña Photo ©

As CHCC CEO, Muña has the expenditure authority over all transactions.

“So it is my duty to protect those assets — at least to make sure that those assets are transferred appropriately and under the proper legal authority.”

In an earlier statement, Muña said she and board of trustees only learned that KCHC was separating from CHCC on March 29, 2018.

“Obviously, I was not aware of it, the board of trustees was not aware too. The move was concealed from us,” she added.
Castro has said that the U.S. Human Resources Services Administration or HRSA extended its funding assistance to KCHC, which will get more than US$1 million for its annual operations.

But Muña noted that “further discussion is needed and we are simply waiting for full details of the application they submitted to the HRSA to clearly assess the situation.” She said the CHCC will not oppose KCHC’s separation “for now to ensure that there will a smooth transition and to ensure that the population they serve will continue to have healthcare services.”

She said “the employees have to be considered too. We want to make sure that employees are taken care of.”

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Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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