Calvo Impanels GMH Board Using Organic Authority; Incidents Prompt Immediate Action
Immediate Release: March 25, 2011
The Hospital’s medical director needs the Board of Trustees to be impaneled immediately. Questioned conduct on the part of certain doctors with hospital privileges has led to investigations. These investigations led to the uncovering of information suggesting gaps in the credentials process at GMH. According to Medicare regulations, “The hospital must have an effective governing body, legally responsible for the conduct of the hospital as an institution.”
Interim Hospital Administrator Rey Vega yesterday approached Governor’s Chief of Staff Franklin Arriola about possible gaps in patient care, and the need to impanel the Board of Trustees so it can oversee the medical staff. This follows two incidents of questioned conduct. Dr. Larry Lizama, as the medical director, currently can take temporary action to remove GMH-employed medical staff for questionable conduct. The board, however, must sanction disciplinary action beyond that. Only the board can grant, restrict, suspend or terminate hospital privileges. This information prompted a meeting today between Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, Arriola, Vega and Dr. Lizama. Vega and Dr. Lizama pleaded with the Governor to impanel the Board of Trustees so actions could be taken. The meeting began at 2 p.m. at GMH and concluded moments ago.
At that time, the Governor ordered the appointment of his five nominees to the Board of Trustees through his Organic authority. Although unnecessary, the Governor previously sought to impanel the Board of Trustees with the cooperation of the Legislature by submitting his appointees to the confirmation process. The Legislature has kicked back the nominations, citing a public law calling for nominations through a nominating council. The Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel notified the Legislature the law is inorganic. In response, the Legislature requested an Attorney General opinion into the Organicity of the statute, which they are still awaiting.
Dr. Lizama, in the meantime, is proposing solutions to improve patient care and allay public concern. These solutions need board approval. The Governor does not want to wait for incidents to occur as these matters settle.
Review of Processes
Dr. Lizama, whose term as medical director began recently, seriously started to assess peer review and medical staff practices and processes upon assuming office.
“This is a crucial part of the medical review process,” Dr. Lizama said. “We can’t hold ourselves accountable if the assessments aren’t being made. The people of Guam are trusting me with their health and well being at the hospital, and I am taking that trust very seriously. These are matters of life and death.”
The direction came from the Governor’s call for zero-tolerance on deviations from the medical commitment to excellence.
“People who go to the hospital put their lives in others’ hands,” the Governor said. “I won’t tolerate anything short of excellence.”
Two Incidents
Dr. Lizama received reports of two recent incidents at GMH, which raise questions about the conduct of certain medical professionals. He cannot comment on the details of these reports as the investigations are ongoing. However, the reports prompted him to review physicians’ credentials files. Upon review, he took temporary disciplinary action in order to remove any questions on future conduct. He also found gaps in the credentials process.
“These matters are under investigation,” Dr. Lizama said. “I cannot comment beyond the fact that we are doing everything to get to the bottom of these matters and take corrective action. We need a board in place to look at these gaps in the credentials process and to take action from there.”
Public Trust and Confidence in GMH
“I understand that we have a long way to go to win back the trust and confidence of the people,” Dr. Lizama said. “But, I do want to assure the public that we are taking aggressive and corrective action to rid the hospital of every last vestige of negative concern. The patients’ safety, health and well being is our only priority. We will not tolerate anything short of excellence in the provision of medical care to patients. We are running a first-rate hospital operation that holds everyone to the highest of standards.”
NOTE: Governor Calvo could not participate in the “walk to Fena” this afternoon, because he was dealing with urgent matters at Guam Memorial Hospital. False information was presented to the public that the Governor was meeting with JGPO officials during the walk. That is not true. The Governor was at GMH meeting with its administrators about incidents involving patient care and gaps in the credentials process.

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