Whistleblower's claims about GMH debated - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Whistleblower's claims about GMH debated

Posted: Jun 19, 2018 3:42 PM Updated:

Hospital mismanagement and corruption was also the focus of an oversight hearing at the legislature Monday night. Senators again heard from a self-described whistleblower, who alleged a systemic failure in leadership.

Dr. Kozue Shimabukuro once a top administrator herself says she's been marginalized ever since coming forward with the allegations during a hearing last week. "Now that I have become a whistleblower, GMH administrators are retaliating by suddenly accusing me in the press and in the public as me being the sole cause of the failure. This retaliation must cease immediately," she stated.

She's talking about management deficiencies cited in a joint commission report that threatens the hospital's accreditation. Others also came forward with criticism of their own. Former GMH board member Val Perez says they had little input while he was there, and the medical records system was a problem.

Doctor Sam Friedman chronicled a long history of what he claims was inept management, and described a hospital controlled by a small group of doctors who were intolerant of change, and very defensive of the status quo.

"You can see that there is a survey that went out year after year within the organization, it shows it. That people don't feel safe to speak out in our organization because things like this happens to everyone who speaks up," he said.

But another longtime Guam physician, Dr. Tom Shieh, sees it differently, saying, "All we talked about is the bad things about Guam Memorial Hospital but without regard to the good things we've done."

Shieh sought to dispute some of the charges like Dr. Shimabukuro's claim that the hospital lost more than $22 million in billings because doctors weren't completing required medical records on time. Shieh said, "You have to understand that doctors are human as well. So when somebody just says generalization, just says hey physician not completing their record, that's why they're not billing. that's not true okay. And I think that was back in 2014 something like that. I don't think we had electronic records." Shimabukuro added, "GMH had a wonderful accountability policies but we were just not following it, that's all. So, again I sincerely apologize to doctors who took offense and thought that, or told by somebody, that I threw you guys under the bus, I did not."

Critics are calling for a wholesale change in the management of the hospital, free of any political influence, as he noted, "There is a consulting firm just made for health administration to capture revenue and foster a culture of safety, there are people who do this professionally, and very much with integrity, so we should reach out to them."

Health committee chair Dennis Rodriguez says he's raised that option before, but got no traction.  Meantime he's impaneled a bipartisan investigative committee to probe the mismanagement and corruption charges.  Senators are also set to decide whether to repeal a sales tax meant to help fund the hospital's chronic budget shortfall.

Shieh says that would be a major setback, saying, "Don't stop funding GMH just because you consider somebody out here a whistleblower say hey they're mismanaging this they're mismanaging that. Let me tell you don't allow me to be in another situation like years before when I ask for a stitch and I don't get the stitch that I want or the suture that I need. Don't let that happen again okay. because we do a good job. We have good doctors, we have good nurses, we have good staff there."

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