The email exchange was between GMH CEO Ted Lewis and Governor Calvo’s Chief Fiscal Advisor Bernie Artero and began after Lewis requested that Adelup send GMH $6 million.
Guam – Bernie Artero, the governor’s chief fiscal advisor and the Guam Memorial Hospital’s CEO Ted Lewis are at odds over the hospital’s finances. PNC obtained emails between the two in which Artero sounds off on Lewis for demanding $6 million and she calls him out for questionable spending practices.
PNC received documents it requested based on a Freedom of Information Act request. In it shows a bitter email exchange between Artero and Lewis.
It started when Lewis first sent a memo to GMH CFO Benita Manglona and to Jun Infante with the Accounting Department on December 1st in which Lewis tells them, “The DOA and whoever makes the decisions on GMH payments need to send $6 million to us this week so that we can make payroll and keep our vendors with continued service.”
This apparently angered Artero, who fired back two days later with a scathing email. She starts by saying, “I am appalled that you sent such a request as though this Administration has done nothing to bail out the hospital each pay period.”
She writes, “You are telling me that you have a cash problem yet your travels and credit card charges do not reflect that reality.”
Artero continues on her tirade and lashes at Lewis for sending over charts that are “laughable.”
“What is it supposed to mean?” she writes. “There is no title and no explanation of what those numbers are.”
She goes on to accuse Lewis of inappropriately hiring a contract employee which cost the hospital thousands of dollars. “It did not help that you brought a contract employee on board,” she says, “housed him at the Hilton and also rented a condo for him only to find out that the hiring was done inappropriately and GMHA had to foot the bill for that error.”
Artero then appears to criticize Lewis for being ignorant of how the hospital spends its money despite him being the CEO.
“By the way,” she says, “I can point out to you other instances where GMHA spent funds that to me are inconsistent with GMHA’s fiscal reality, but then, you ARE the CEO.”
She points out that Adelup would be able to help GMH with the $6 million Lewis requested if the hospital paid the Department of Revenue and Taxation the $6 million it owed in withholding taxes that have not been paid.
Lewis responded to Artero about six days later on December 9 where he starts of apologizing but then conveys his own disappointment that Artero “failed to see the critical situation the hospital faced with its impending Joint Commission survey in July.”
“The hospital was in probation and if we did not clear the items of concern cited we could lose our accreditation,” Lewis said. He was responding to Artero’s claims against him about the contract employee who was inappropriately hired. Lewis says had it not been for the engineer, every single life safety issue cited by the Joint Commission would not have been cleared.
Lewis also underscores the importance of his initial email. He says key managers at GMH have voiced their concerns that “they believe we are reaching a point of not being able to provide safe, adequate care for our patients that come to them for service, based on the severe shortages appearing now of supplies, drugs and services needed to keep the facility ongoing adequately.”
Lewis also points out that operating at such a level will negatively impact the hospital because they will end up paying a higher cost for goods and services if their accounts are consistently past due or are on credit hold.
“This situation is real and our ability to provide safe, effective care to our patients is in jeopardy due to the unmanageable level of our trade payables,” he concludes.
Just a day after Lewis sent this email, three board members of the GMH Board of Trustees abruptly stepped down. They were the chairman, Lee Webber, Vice Chairperson Frances Mantanona and member Rose Grino. At the time, Governor Calvo expressed frustration with Lewis’ performance as CEO of GMH.
Just a few weeks later the governor appointed Artero to be a part of the GMH Advisory Council that he created through executive order to analyze the financial situation at the GMH.
Last week the GMH Advisory Council met with technical staff at GMH and identified three major weaknesses. The council forwarded their findings to Governor Calvo and he’s expected to meet with GMH staff over the next few weeks.