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CHCC board members to Senate: ‘Give us time to work’

TWO of the newly confirmed governing board members of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. opposed a measure that would clarify the duties and functions of CHCC and its chief executive officer.

CHCC board members Leticia Reyes and Laurie Ogumoro appeared at the public hearing conducted on Wednesday night by the Senate.

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Sen. Sixto Igisomar introduced Senate Bill 20-29 “to clarify and strengthen the governance structure” of CHCC.

Reyes and Ogumoro said their nominations were confirmed just last week and they haven’t organized yet.

They said they have yet to prove if they are worthy of the governor’s trust and can perform the mandates set out by Public Law 19-78 which created the CHCC governing board.

“Give us a chance to work and to address some of issues first,” Reyes said, adding that is too early to amend a law enacted in Jan. 2017.

Former Speaker Pedro Deleon Guerrero also testified against the bill, saying the senators should study it carefully.

“I urge that you give the board six months to work it out and, after that, call them back and ask them about their experience. The board members have just been appointed and confirmed, and they haven’t organized yet. We haven’t seen how the law will work so let us all give that law a chance to work for everybody before we make any changes or amendments,” Deleon Guerrero said.

Esther Muna, the CHCC CEO, testified in support of the bill. She said its intent is not to eliminate the current board members but to make some distinctions between the board and the CEO’s functions.

The hospital’s medical directors, Dr. Beth Khonen and Dr. Phuong Luu, as well as Kaitlyn Nieses, special assistant for policy and development sustainability, also expressed support for the bill.

Muna said the bill should be further improved to clarify the functions of the CEO and the governing board.

According to the bill, the board “must use its time wisely, and must focus on high-level strategic decisions, and not waste time on issues for which management is responsible.”

A common reason for conflict in nonprofit and hospital boards, the bill added, “is when a staff conflict or grievance is brought directly to a director or directors of the board, rather than going through management. Therefore, the Legislature finds that CHCC must implement an informal grievance process for staff members to prevent staff members from bringing problems to directors of the board individually.”

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/96077-chcc-board-members-to-senate-give-us-time-to-work

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