Controversies aired at GBAHE hearing - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Controversies aired at GBAHE hearing

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - An oversight hearing on the Guam Board of Allied Health Examiners began with the Legislative Healthcare Committee chairman, Senator Frank Aguon Jr., expecting some fireworks during the event. But while there were no explosive exchanges, things were extremely tense as the board has been accused of fighting like cats and dogs with one particular local veterinarian.

Controversy has swirled around the Guam Allied Board of Health Examiners for many months - an oversight hearing this after provided a platform to air some of the controversy. Dave Highsmith is the board's legal counsel, and told KUAM News, "There have been questions about how the board operates many of those questions have been unfair or based on a lack of information."

Highsmith told the panel of lawmakers, headed by Senator Aguon, that the board has gone out of its way to follow procedures. Yet allegations of cover-ups, unjust denials for renewal of licenses, and breaches of confidentiality all came from Dr. Joel Joseph on of the most vocal critics of the board.

Joseph, owner of the Wise Owl Animal Care Hospital, said, "The board talks about all these charges they have against me at the second Board of Allied Health administrative hearing; count one illegal ear cropping. I was found not guilty because the board found all the other veterinarians on island were doing it anyways."

Joseph also accused the board of not addressing complaints he's filed with them. But board chair Dr. Mamie Balajadia denied the accusation, saying, "The board processes all complaints and the board conducts its meetings in an honorable manner. Individuals may be unhappy with it but all the board members present, presiding do make the decision to properly process a complaint, as well as individual need to be disciplined."

Joseph meanwhile believes the board has gone out of their way to process complaints against him. "Selling and distributing rabies vaccines in violation of the controlled drug laws. Not guilty. Why? Rabies vaccine is not a controlled drug. These people didn't do their homework," he stated.  "They brought the administrative hearing officer, they brought out the lawyer. They made me pay tens and thousands of dollars in lawyer fees for charges that have no bearing that don't even exist."

Unlike Joseph, Brett Silk of the Isla Veterinarian Clinic Center has a very different view of the board.  He professed, "I've had many situations where I've dealt with the committee and I feel that they are a fair and people that really look after the community."

Although praise for the board was short, Balajadia says she welcomed the hearing, saying it gave her a chance to have the senators attention in asking them to move forward on a bill that would require massage therapists be licensed and certified through the allied health board.

Highsmith said the charges against Dr. Joseph will be resolved in court.  As for an investigation of the board's actions that were raised during today's oversight, the Healthcare Committee chair said if deemed necessary, another oversight hearing will be called.

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