Harsh criticism from physicians about GMH leadership - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Harsh criticism from physicians about GMH leadership

Posted: Jun 12, 2018 1:36 PM Updated:

A doctor's alarming allegations of mismanagement, deceit and corruption are raising questions about the hospital's top administrators. What was supposed to be a public hearing on the repeal of the 2% general sales tax turned into an expose of systemic problems plaguing the hospital.

It was Dr. Kozue Shimabukuro's testimony that set the tone.  She presented slide after slide describing management failures, and an intolerance for any criticism. She is relatively new to GMH and says she is now paying for trying to make things better, saying, "As I became more and more vocal about expressing my difference in my opinions over their inefficient way of running the hospital, the tension and the hostility became tangible. I hated going to work because of it every day, because I knew the hostile environment waited for me."

In January, a Joint Commission issued report that threatens to revoke accreditation. In an oversight hearing, management downplayed the findings blaming chronic budget shortfalls. GMH and Adelup also stepped-up public lobbying for a new sales tax as a dedicated funding to fix the money woes.

But Dr. Shimabukuro charges that they deliberately mislead senators, and management conspired to keep her from public meetings as a way to silence her. She stated, "The majority of joint citation was clearly because of leadership issues. We weren't going to be able to hide it. The public deserved to know that." She added, "They lied to keep me away. Because I told them multiple times if they ask me the questions about the Joint Commission, I said I would say what I just said. It is a failure of leadership."

She claims there are deficiencies that could otherwise raise or save money. Some simple, like the lack of coordination over food costs at the cafeteria. Others are multimillion dollar revenue losses, such as doctors not held accountable for timely charting of procedures. The physician added, "Insurance companies deny any claims after certain times, 90 days, and for Medicaid its one year. That's why these delinquent chart, aged chart equals lost revenues. In the states we never let that happen. Never.

"To the point, we hold the physicians accountable and suspend their privileges until they completed within a few days. That is not happening at GMH."

Her estimate of $22 million in non-billings raising eyebrows among senators who will decide soon whether to go forward with the sales tax. Dr. Shimabukuro is not alone - longtime surgeon Dr. Jerone Landstrom also charged that GMH is run through shadow politics and obscured finances. For example, he says GMH is not billing properly for surgeries, as he explained, "The facility fee is the lion's share of that. The daily rate, the or time, ICU, emergency room. It's a huge number."

He also describes a longstanding systemic mess where physician contracts are handed out through political favoritism and nepotism.

Oversight chairman Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. announced, "We really do have to get to the bottom of these allegations, we just can't let it go and linger out there. Dr. Landstrom said something very interesting, which I believe, it's a systemic problem.

Rodriguez commissioned a comprehensive study of the decades-old problems...but it went nowhere. "I felt it was my opinion that you've got to take politics out of the hospital, take the way we've been doing things out, because it doesn't work," the senator stated.

An oversight hearing is scheduled for June 18. GMH administrator Peter John Camacho denies the allegations which he says he will address at an appropriate time.

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