The acting chief executive of Bermuda’s healthcare watchdog set up a company with a top executive from the US-based Lahey Clinic but “immediately terminated” the arrangement because of a potential conflict of interest, it has been revealed.
Ricky Brathwaite, the director of health economics at the Bermuda Health Council, incorporated Dyenic Group International with Linda Moulton, the former chief executive of Lahey’s executive and international health programmes, in Massachusetts in May 2016.
Alicia Stovell-Washington, the health council chairwoman, said Dr Brathwaite and Ms Moulton, who met in Bermuda, ended their business relationship in June that year after the BHeC decided there were “potential perceived conflicts with Ms Moulton’s then employer, Lahey International”.
She added: “Per recent statements, the health council would like to make mention that Dr Ricky Brathwaite states that he has never engaged in relationships with any aspect of the Lahey business or Dr Ewart Brown outside of his official capacity at the council.”
Dr Stovell-Washington was speaking after a report on ZBM News on Wednesday questioned why a “high-ranking officer of the island’s health services watchdog partnered with a person formerly responsible for attracting foreign business” to Lahey, a hospital in Massachusetts.
The report included a March 2016 photograph of Ms Moulton presenting a plaque from Lahey to Dr Brown, the former premier, for starting a programme that brought specialists from Lahey to treat patients in Bermuda.
Dr Brathwaite joined Bermuda Health Council as programme manager for health economics in 2014 and later became director of health economics.
He was made acting CEO of the regulatory body in December, after former chief executive Tawanna Wedderburn was fired.
When he met Ms Moulton, she was responsible for helping Lahey to develop markets to provide medical care to patients outside of the United States.
Ms Moulton said last night: “An entity was formed in 2016. There was a concept of shared faith, through the Seventh-day Adventist church, and a commitment to service, which led to an idea of helping underserved communities. “Once we realised that it might lead to confusion because of our professional roles, we handed it off. The entity still exists, as you can see from the filings.”
Ms Moulton added: “I left Lahey to take my current role working with an organisation that provides healthcare and education in East Africa. It’s really that simple and was formed with good intentions.”
Lahey already had a relationship with Bermuda and sent its specialists to the island as part of the programme announced by Dr Brown in 2007, when he was premier in the Progressive Labour Party government.
Dr Brown’s own business relationship with Lahey, involving his two medical clinics, would later come under the spotlight when the former One Bermuda Alliance government sued the hospital for allegedly conspiring with him to carry out a “corrupt” scheme “at the expense of the Bermudian government and people”.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States, claimed Dr Brown used his position as a government minister to promote Lahey’s interests in Bermuda, and the hospital paid him “bribes disguised as consulting fees” to do so.
The hospital and Dr Brown denied the accusations and the case was dismissed by a judge in March last year.
Dr Stovell-Washington said the health council was made aware in May 2016 that Dr Brathwaite had incorporated Dyenic, which stands for Dynamic Youth Envisioning New Ideas for Change.
She added: “This initiative was one that Dr Brathwaite had begun in 2001 while studying at the University of Maryland.
“Ms Linda Moulton, whom Dr Brathwaite met in Bermuda, then partnered with him on an expanded initiative to provide support to vulnerable youth and underserved communities in the United States and other African diaspora countries outside of Bermuda.”
Dr Stovell-Washington added: “The health council board discussed the potential conflict of interest of the arrangement in June 2016, which resulted in the decision for Dr Brathwaite not to engage further due to the potential perceived conflicts with Ms Moulton’s then employer, Lahey International.”
She said: “Dr Brathwaite still volunteers as a mentor and provides support to programmes for youth here in Bermuda and in the United States.”
Dyenic’s certificate of incorporation with the corporations division of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts said that it provided “strategic consulting to hospitals and healthcare systems”.
Ms Moulton filed its last annual report in April last year and Dr Brathwaite was still listed as having an interest.
Dr Brathwaite told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “There was never any operations of any business that took place.”
A spokesman for the Lahey clinic said that “employees are required to proactively disclose any potential conflict of interest to Lahey’s health compliance department”.
He added: “Linda Moulton is no longer an employee of Lahey Hospital & Medical Centre or any business unit within the Lahey health system.”
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said: “The Bermuda Health Council recruits its own employees — the Ministry of Health is not involved in its hiring.
“The ministry was made aware of a business partnership, which began years after Dr Brathwaite began employment at the health council. The matter was addressed at the time by the Bermuda Health Council.”
The health council was set up to regulate private health service providers, ensure the provision of essential health services and to promote good health.
UPDATE: this article has been amended to clarify that Ricky Brathwaite is still the director of health economics at the Bermuda Health Council
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