Wise Owl owner takes board to court - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Wise Owl owner takes board to court

by Nick Delgado

Guam - A local veterinarian is appealing a decision made by the Guam Board of Allied Health in the Superior Court. Wise Owl Animal Hospital owner Dr. Joel Joseph is fighting the disciplinary action members of the GBAH handed down against him last December. 

Dr. Joseph says he has been in and out of court with the board for the past six years over allegations he says the court continuously ruled had no merit. "That I talked rudely and discourteously to Dr. [Velma] Harper; basically I told her I'm going to take you down, and I don't deny that but it was a private phone conversation with Dr. Harper and the things I she said to me was not even as nice as the things I said to her," he explained.

Allied Health Board chairperson Dr. Mamie Balajadia says members found him guilty of harassment, however Dr. Joseph contends the board's intervention violated his rights to speak freely. Dr. Balajadia adds the board also found Dr. Joseph guilty of negligence for improper diagnosis of a dog's bone.

But again, Dr. Joseph disagrees, saying this is why he is appealing their decision. "We did identify it as a hard tissue to the leg, hard tissue is obviously bone and we referred the person to another veterinarian, we did no very politely and encouraged him to go, it was over three weeks before the gentlemen went there," he said.

Dr. Joseph contends he is innocent claiming the board never provided hard evidence of the x-rays taken for the dog. The board penalized Dr. Joseph and ordered him to take 10 hours of continuing education on ethics and orthopedics

In the meantime, Joseph also alleges the board violated his rights of religious freedom during his disciplinary hearing process. "They denied access to having my holiday celebration of Hanukkah," he explained. "They purposely had this hearing on Hanukkah, which would be equivalent of having it on your Christmas Eve. You just don't do that."

In court today, Judge Anita Sukola recused herself from hearing the case, something Joseph says was no surprise. "So this was expected and it'll be assigned to another judge and then they'll decide about the Freedom of Information Act, they'll decide about open government law, religious freedom rights, the first amendment, etc.," he said.

Reacting to Dr. Joseph's actions, Dr. Balajadia says he has the right to appeal the board's decision, adding that it's not unexpected. Balajadia also tells KUAM News Dr. Joseph's penalty was not severe and is a requirement for all practitioners. In the meantime, no court date has been set yet to continue the appeal.

Of note is that the Board of Allied Health is scheduled to hold a meeting this Friday at the legacy square commercial complex in Mangilao. The meeting begins at noon.

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