- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
GMH physician makes nearly half a million a year
A physician who was hired by the Guam Memorial Hospital for an unclassified administrative position has received a nearly 100 percent increase in annual salary within a month, from $95,235 in March to $187,200 in April.
Besides her salary for the administrative position, Dr. Joleen Aguon also receives an annual salary of $300,000 under a separate contract signed last year with the previous administration.
For both sets of salaries, Aguon makes $487,200 a year. On top of the set pay, Aguon is allowed to receive professonal fees from patients she sees at GMH, which may further bring her a much bigger paycheck .
Earlier this year, Aguon was initially hired as associate hospital administrator of clinical services. Her appointment was effective Feb. 11, 2019.
Based on the initial notice of personnel action dated March 11, Aguon is entitled to retirement and life insurance benefits.
The amended personnel document dated April 4 changed Aguon’s title to assistant associate administrator of medical services, with the corresponding salary adjustment.
Lilian Posadas, GMH administrator and CEO, sought to justify the pay amendment, explaining that Aguon’s salary has been adjusted based on additional tasks she was charged with.
“When we initially hired Dr. Aguon, we hired her as associate hospital administrator of clinical services but it would be for part time only,” Posadas said. “Then we discovered that the areas she is overseeing – nursing and professional support— the individual in charge of professional support is getting a salary higher than hers. It did not make sense that the person she is overseeing has a higher salary than her.”
Pasadas said when Aguon’s salary was bumped up, GMH upgraded her title to a full-time position. “We elevated her title to assistant associate administrator of services,” the GMH administrator said. “So she is doing medical and clinical services and overseeing professional support service. Those are her three big tasks.”
Besides her salary for the administrative position, Aguon also receives an annual salary of $300,000 in biweekly installments under a contract she signed in June 2018 with former GMH administrator PeterJohn Camacho.
Aguon is a pulmonary disease specialist, specializing in the diagnosis and management of disorders of the respiratory system, including the lungs, upper airways, thoracic cavity and chest wall. She received her medical degree from University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. She also provides clinical service at the American Medical Clinic.
Under the independent contract, which has been renewed this year, Aguon is tasked as director of Intensive Care, Critical Care and Progressive Care Units; and concurrently director of Respiratory Services and Consulting Intensivist.
Under this contract, Posadas said, Aguon provides physician service and medical leadership. “She is there on a daily basis,” Posadas said. “We continued the contract because we do need her in ICU. We do not have anybody else to do this job.”
The contract was signed more than week after the Legislature conducted an oversight hearing on GMH, in which senators questioned the hospital’s pay arrangement with resident and independent physicians.
Posadas claimed Aguon does not receive additional fees for professional services. Under the contract, however, Aguon is “entitled to keep all billings for professional services.”
“The GMHA shall establish and maintain a fee schedule for professional services provided by physician pursuant to this agreement,” the contract reads. “The GMHA shall bill for, and retain any payment received for all facility/operating rooms fee, supplies, drugs and all services provides to patients by physician under this agreement.”
Aguon signed the contract on June 25, 2018; then-GMH administrator PeterJohn Camacho signed it on June 25, 2018, and then CFO-Benita Manglona signed it on June 22, 2018.
A request for comment from Aguon was not returned as of this writing.
Former GMH administrator Ted Lewis, who broke his silence more than a year after being fired from his position, questioned the hospital’s practice of allowing physicians on GMH payroll to receive payments from patients seen at the government medical facility.
This practice was corroborated by other physicians during the legislative oversight hearing last year.
Read related stories
Click here to subscribe to our digital edition