CEO feud dominated

2006 marked a tumultuous year for the Health Services Authority with the hiring and subsequent dismissal of CEO Craig Brown.

The fourth CEO to head the HSA in four years, the HSA Board of Directors terminated Mr. Brown’s employment on 2 October after he had been on the job only six months into a three-year contract.

Mr. Brown took over from Shirlene Henriques, who had taken on the role of acting CEO after the departure of Michael Elliott, and was to remain as deputy CEO, but left the HSA soon after when her position was eliminated.

Some major issues Mr. Brown’s tenure were set to address included sorting out the HSA’s financial woes, improving quality of care and rectifying salary inequities.

Mr. Brown’s tenure was marked by some high-profile firings including that of HSA’s Chief Operating Officer Cathy Gomez, and tension between Mr. Brown and the HSA Board of Directors.

In the latest development, Mr. Brown is suing his former employer for wrongful dismissal.

The HSA’s new Acting CEO Lizzette Yearwood says she is confident she’ll be able to perform her duties knowing she’s backed by a team of seasoned professionals.

The 13-year veteran of the HSA was approached by the HSA Board to undertake the CEO duties and her appointment was announced 16 October.

Previously, Ms Yearwood was deputy chief executive officer and Director of Clinical Support Services.

Ms Yearwood was adamant that she does not wish to take on the role permanently and fully intends to depart the position in three to six months as soon as a new CEO is recruited.

She sees her primary role as restoring staff morale, which she mostly blames on perceived salary inequities.

Salaries have been frozen for four years, but in this year’s budget, $1.3 million has already been allocated to cover designated salary inequities, and over the following two years, staff will see three per cent annual pay increases across the board.

Other positive events at the HSA included the arrival of a new weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

The HSA received the donation of a $450,000 Hologic Lorad Selenia Full Field digital mammography machine, along with supplementary equipment, from the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.

The Society raised the funds for the machine’s purchase through a campaign, which was kicked off 12 December 2005.

The funding for the mammography machine and future projects like it are administered by the newly established Women Helping Women Memorial Fund.

While the primary goal of the fund will be to raise money through its own fundraising efforts, a solid income source is already in place: the HSA will be donating 10 per cent of what it charges for use of the machine back into the fund.

Committee member Dr. Sook Yin said the fund was established in the interest of maintaining stewardship continuity in a world that often sees a lot of institutional change.

‘In recognition that the HSA has a number of pressing priorities at the present time, we are doing this to provide a reliable, additional health-related service to the Cayman community.

‘Through this public-private partnership we have shown we can achieve a needed goal without having to sacrifice existing services,’ she said.

In another positive development, the HSA hired Dr. Laurence van Hanswijck de Jonge to be its new research coordinator

The research will take place in three areas: within the hospital, nationwide, and in partnership with international research centres to be included in international research studies.

Mr. van Hanswijck de Jonge’s first step is assisting in the development and launch of the Cayman Islands national health registry intended to capture health statistics.

‘It’s a great opportunity for the country to see where it stands in terms of its health,’ she said.

The aim is to conduct the survey annually to be able to monitor trends in disease and risk factors over time.

Ultimately, Mr. van Hanswijck de Jonge will look outward to other countries in order to collaborate with other international institutions to get Cayman on the map of empirical medical research.

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