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Men With A Mission
By ELISABETH ROMAN
December 23, 2004
Every year, CARIBBEAN BUSINESS honors a professional from the private and the public sector with the distinction of Persons of the Year. These are two professionals who, based on their service and contributions to Puerto Rico throughout the year, have touched the lives of many in a positive manner.
This year, we are proud to have selected Alfredo Volckers, executive vice president of Pavia Health, and Manual Diaz Saldaña, Comptroller of Puerto Rico as the recipients of the CARIBBEAN BUSINESS 2004 Persons of the Year award.
Although on the surface it seems these two men dont have much in common, the reality is they share a sense of professionalism, work ethics, and dedication that has earned them recognition throughout Puerto Rico. These are men with a mission and a passion for justice and fairness which, combined with high principles, is what fuels their ardent defense of Puerto Rico.
Each in his own manner has taken an oath to serve and protect, performing his professional responsibilities with distinction and immense honor. While Volckers fights to obtain equality for Medicare patients in Puerto Rico and to provide quality healthcare for the islands patients, Diaz Saldaña works to protect Puerto Ricos taxpayers from the abusive spending of some government officials.
There are few, if any, who can return to the institution they were born in and transform it into a major healthcare facility. Yet, that is exactly what Volckers has done and much more. He took a single hospital in Santurce, where he was born, and transformed it into Pavia Health, a major healthcare company that now operates several hospitals throughout Puerto Rico.
Volckers task wasnt an easy one. When he joined Pavia, the hospitals facilities were deteriorating, morale was at an all time low, and the owners wanted to sell it. Through his example, working 14 to 16 hours a day, and implementing the necessary personnel changes, Pavia was able to achieve cost efficiency, generate profits, and expand. Through the years, thanks to his efforts and hard work, Volckers has earned the respect of his staff, of Pavia Healths medical faculty, and of Puerto Rico. He was especially successful in 2003 in leading the fight to obtain from Washington, D.C. an increase in Medicare payments for the residents of Puerto Rico and the hospitals.
Work ethics, high values, and administrative skills also have been at the core of Diaz Saldañas success as a public sector official. Always looking out for the interests of Puerto Ricos taxpayers, as Treasury secretary, he led the 1994 Tax Reform that brought tax relief to the islands taxpayers.
As the comptroller of Puerto Rico, Diaz Saldaña certainly has seen his share of controversy and public pressure. But that has not stopped him from carrying out his duties of keeping a close watch over how municipalities and the commonwealth government spend taxpayer funds, and from being outspoken regarding the use of private funds for political purposes. Diaz Saldaña and his team at the Comptrollers Office have doubled the number of government entities audited, helped improve the financial conditions of Puerto Rico municipalities, and implanted state-of-the-art information technology in the agency.
Diaz Saldañas censure of officials using public funds for political purposes has led to what he refers to as public persecution by government officials and legislators with the sole intention of hurting his image. No amount of pressure, however, has intimidated Diaz Saldaña from carrying out his responsibilities with integrity and we applaud him for that.
For their work and ongoing contribution to improving the quality of life in Puerto Rico, Volckers and Diaz Saldaña have earned the distinction of CARIBBEAN BUSINESS Persons of the Year. Our hats off to them.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.