Pohnpei legislators adopt resolution requesting Governor to dismiss Director of Health Services and appoint a new Director

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


December 12, 2020

Pohnpei—On December 4, 2020, the Pohnpei State Legislature adopted a resolution requesting Governor Reed Oliver to begin the process of “restor(ing) the confidence of the people of Pohnpei in their Department of Health Services, beginning with replacing the current Director, Wincener J. David.

The lengthy resolution outlined the Legislature’s motivations for the recommended action.  It says that it is incumbent upon the Administration to meet the requirements of the Constitution for continual improvement in health care.  “Towards this end, the Department of Health Services has always endeavored to retain a highly qualified corps of medical professionals, including fully trained physicians who are experienced in the specialties of hospital care…unfortunately, recent events have proven that the present Director of the Department of Health Services is not up to the task,” it says.

The resolution claims that the departure of Internist, Dr. Payne Perman and Opthalmologist, Dr. Padwick Gallen resulted from the current Director’s reluctance to negotiate reasonable contracts for the two doctors.  The resolution also claims that during the late part of the last fiscal year and the early part of this fiscal year, a number of employment contracts for essential medical personnel were due to be renewed, “yet negotiations between Wincener J. David and the respective medical personnel have failed to bear fruit, resulting in departures and employment encumbrances of these crucial members of the medical staff…”

The Legislature essentially accused David of lying to them during a committee hearing on November 6 when he told them that all outstanding employment contracts for staff which needed to be renewed had been

successfully negotiated, agreed upon and signed-off by the Department of Health Services.  The resolution says that on November 12 the Legislature discovered that the testimony was not accurate since there were several outstanding employment contracts for crucial medical staff that had not yet been executed.

It says that through formal hearings and numerous patient and personnel complaints, the Legislature learned of a “rising level of morale problems amongst staff at the Department of Health Services, engendered by the shortage of medical personnel and low levels of compensation, which are largely attributable to the recalcitrance exhibited by the Director in his management of (the) Department(s) personnel…”

The Legislature discovered that the depleted ranks of medical professionals has resulted in the condition of the hospital often having only one physician on hand per shift to cover both emergency and in-patient and out-patient calls. It says that the end result is that patients, especially those in out-patient care, routinely wait for hours before they are ultimately seen by the solitary physician on duty.

The resolution links the current state of morale and confidence in the Department of Health to the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency in Pohnpei, pointing out that while it is important for the hospital to be fully staffed at normal times, it is all the more important as FSM considers repatriating Pohnpeian residents from Guam.  “It has become well known to the leadership of our State that our people are in the process of losing and may, indeed, have already lost their confidence in the ability of the Department of Health Services to meet even their most basic medical needs, much less come to their rescue in the time of a global pandemic that could hit our shores with devastating effects at any time…”

The resolution accuses David as having been “remiss insofar as fulfilling the attendant duties required of his Department”, both in terms of the currently deteriorating public relations between the Department and the citizens of Pohnpei, but also by allowing the levels of critically needed personnel to drop to unserviceable levels.  It also points to low hospital staff morale as a failing of the Director.

The final words of the resolution are directed toward Governor Oliver.  “The Pohnpei Legislature recognizes that the Governor of Pohnpei is the highest executive leader of this State who is responsible for the faithful execution of the provisions of the Constitution and the laws of Pohnpei and for the efficient operations of the agencies and institutions of government; and whereas, the Pohnpei Legislatures also recognizes that history does not look kindly on those in Leadership positions who attempt to maintain an aura of neutrality in times of moral crisis; and whereas the Pohnpei Legislatures is of the firm mind that there should be no hesitation on the part of the Governor to step in and put an end to this crisis; for the time for affirmative gubernatorial action is now upon the State…”

The Legislature resolved to request “the Governor of Pohnpei to restore the confidence of the people of Pohnpei in their Department of Health Services by re-instating the full complement of medical professionals assigned to the Pohnpei Hospital and re-establishing the morale of the personnel working with the Department through the initiation of new leadership for the management of the Department.”  It further resolved “that in order to accomplish this goal and thereby protect the safety and overall welfare of our people; especially those in need of the health care, medical treatment and therapeutic services, we humbly implore the Honorable Reed B. Oliver, Governor of the State of Pohnpei to utilize the authority of his Office to replace the current Director of the Department of Health Services, Wincener J. David, with all deliberate speed and to promptly fill the vacant position with a new appointee who is fully committed to work fairly with all parties to restore the Department to its full capacity and equally devoted to raise the standards of the Department to its full potential.”

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