by Mindy Aguon
Guam - While there's been extensive coverage about seven Port Authority of Guam authority employees who allegedly conspired to defraud the government and then cover it up, there's a new angle to this story. The very doctor who was described by some of the Port's employees as the "Port's very own surgeon" was not only drawing a regular six-figure paycheck from the hospital, but also receiving money from the Port Authority, raising questions about whether surgeries he performed and recommended for Port workers could have been done here on Guam instead of Hawaii.
Dr. Steven Hayashida came to Guam six years ago, agreeing to join the Guam Memorial Hospital's medical staff as a neurosurgeon providing on-call coverage for the first twenty-one days of each month in exchange for $30,000 a month. He came with more than two decades of experience in general and pediatric care and was board eligible, but not board certified in the state of Hawaii. And for the last six years, Hayashida has been paid $360,000 annually.
According to an April 2011 file story, the hospital's previous chief financial officer, the late Siva Karuppan, expressed concerns about what he said were exorbitant contracts such as Hayashida's claiming the hospital wasn't getting its monies worth. At the time Karuppan confirmed that the neurosurgeon - who only works twenty-one days out of the month - had only performed eight surgeries in 2009 and two surgeries in 2010 despite receiving the full amount, as per his contract.
Just last year Hayashida reapplied for privileges at the hospital and indicated that in the last two years he had performed twenty craniotomies and other reconstructive procedures on the skull, another ten reconstructive procedures on the spine, and ten surgeries for intervertebral disc disease and back surgery on island at GMH. Since his contract began in 2007, Dr. Hayashida has been paid more than $2.2 million from the Guam Memorial Hospital whether he performs surgeries on island or not.
But KUAM News has learned that Hayashida was drawing more than one paycheck from the Government of Guam. In fact, based on requested information from the Port Authority, the neurosurgeon also received more than $167,000 from the Port Authority for evaluations and surgeries he performed on injured Port employees over the last seven years.
It was only after the Port's previous management had authorized the payment of some $77,000 for medical and travel expenses for former Port marketing administrator Bernadette Stern Meno that information surfaced about Hayashida's relationship with the Port. Meno's travel expenses and per diem costs along with her escort were pegged at more than $10,000 - in addition to the $66,000 in medical expenses.
The travel request and authorization were red-flagged at Adelup and the trip was cancelled. The request prompted a full-fledged investigation into Meno's work related injury claim and the subsequent worker's compensation leave she had received that was later reversed because a claim had never been certified by the Workers' Compensation Commission.
In a July 2012 e-mail message, Meno requested that the Port's safety officer refer her to Dr. Hayashida for further examination relative to her slip-and-fall incident in the Port's bathroom ten months before. And a September 2012 e-mail from former Port personnel services administrator Francine Rocio indicates that the Port Authority of Guam had a closer relationship to Dr. Hayashida. Rocio wrote in an e-mail to Meno: "We are fortunate to know him and have him as our very own personal surgeon for the Port".
When asked whether the agency has a contract with Dr. Hayashida, Port general manager Joanne Brown said she isn't aware of one. "In this particular case," she explained, "we have no formal contract with him. So how that came to be is a very good question; I think needs to be further looked into."
Brown also could not explain how Hayashida had been selected or referred to handle the cases of seven injured Port workers. "As far as the Port and what information we've looked at, we're not aware that this procurement has gone through the proper procedures with regard to procurement," Brown stated. "So certainly it's something that we're concerned about and looking into."
Because the agency did not have worker's compensation insurance, which is mandated by law, the Port has chosen to self insure, resulting in the agency paying out close to a half-million dollars for the evaluations, surgery and hospitalization of seven injured workers who travelled to Hawaii for the procedures. Another $33,000 was paid out for the anesthesia related to the surgeries performed by Dr. Hayashida. The $425,000 the Port spent in the last seven years doesn't include the additional taxpayer dollars that were spent to pay for the airfare of the employee and their escort as well as per diem costs while in Hawaii.
While the Port is prohibited from disclosing the types of surgeries that were performed on its seven workers, we should note that there is documented evidence from the hospital that Hayashida has performed many surgeries on Guam, including more than a dozen spinal fusions and low back disk surgeries. Could the nearly half-million dollars the Port spent to send their workers off island for surgery been done on Guam?
Brown said, "I don't know the answer to that. I mean, it might be very possible. That's something that individuals in the medical field would have more expertise, but I'm sure all of those things could have and should have been looked into to ensure that the service could still be provided to the patients ensure that their health and well being is addressed but at the same time ensuring that financially the cost that is being paid is a responsible payment."
KUAM News attempted to contact Dr. Hayashida to get answers to our questions about his arrangement as the Port's surgeon and why surgeries for patients at the agency were done in Hawaii rather than Guam. The hospital said he is not currently on call and calls to his Hawaii office were not returned as of newstime.