Published Monday, September 28, 2020
Two companies linked to $2.4
million-plus alleged in defective
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
As a result of the investigation on the $2,439,000 purchase of alleged defective disposable masks, Social Security determined that two companies delivered the product that does not comply with the quality control.
The first company, MR Communicaciones Politicas, provided 570,000 units of the Chinese standard masks KN95, costing $1,299,000.
The Occupational Health technical experts concluded that the product delivered by that company "does not comply, nor is it the same as requested, neither technically nor administratively, so we are facing a breach of contract," Social Security said.
The second company is Bioplus Care, who provided 300,000 units of KN95 masks, purchased for $1,140,000.
According to Social Security, the masks received are not compatible with the product purchased.
Social Security will take legal action against the people responsible for the sale of the alleged defective masks.
According to Roberto Cervantes- Barrantes, General Manager of Social Security, several investigations are being carried out on alleged irregularities in the purchases made by Social Security during the pandemic.
Last week the Social Security announced a precautionary measure against two additional employees of the Logistics Management department, as part of the investigation process carried out by the institution for an alleged anomaly of a $4 million deal for purchasing about 12 million disposable facemasks.
The case investigates agreements with private companies that were supposed to provide 12 million masks, for a total amount of approximately $4 million. It is alleged that the masks do not meet the appropriate technical requirements for use by healthcare workers.
These two new suspects are the director of the Department of Provider of Goods and Services, and the manager of the Department of Purchases of Goods and Services. Social Security did not provide the names of the two workers.
The two suspects were not suspended, instead they were, as a precautionary measure, transferred for three months to another department and remain working in Social Security.
The precautionary measure amplifies the need for better management to improve public services provided by Social Security through the Logistics Management Department for ensuring all needs are met during the pandemic, Social Security said.
In addition to the two workers who were relocated to other offices, Social Security announced that it is investigating nine more employees related to the case.
In August, Social Security suspended four employees for four months with pay for the same investigation: Luis Fernando Porras-Melendez manager of the logistics department, and two other employees who worked as advisers in the same department, surnamed Vindas- Céspedes and Díaz- Rivera.
Deputies of the Commission of Income and Public Expenses of the Congress approved a motion to open an investigation on the processes taken for the purchase and agreements carried out by Social Security, concerning the acquiring of masks and protective supplies for the institution's healthcare workers.
According to the Congress, the following Social Security workers and company owners are under investigation and subpoenaed:
• Román Macaya-Hayes, President.
• Luis Fernando Porras, Manager of Logistics Department.
• Hans Vindas-Cerdas, Legal Advisor.
• Olger Fernández-Carrillo, Internal Auditor.
• Soraya Solano-Acuña, Technical Commission.
• Nidia Medrano-Durán, Technical Commission.
• Esteban Corrales-Vega, Technical Commission.
Two more people, who’s titles were not mentioned, will be called to the hearing, David Landergren-Castro, and Miren Martínez- Ruíz.
In July, Social Security made a recall for the disposable masks bought during the pandemic. The organization began a process of recovering disposable surgical masks that were handed over to the health workers.
According to the authorities, the masks that must be returned were purchased in the lot 20200428-001, which must be changed by the supplier in the event of a possible labeling error in its packaging.
The nationwide recall was made to all the health units in the country that received supplies specific to that lot. A material error was identified in the inspection of the packaging box labeling, the now suspended Porras said.
According to Porras, "the purchase was correct, the product met the safety and protection requirement."
The people in charge of reviewing the products and managing the purchases are nursing professionals from different medical centers with extensive experience, who carried out the review focused on the quality of the samples, Social Security said.
Specialists verified the international certifications before the purchase. This consisted of testing permeability, functionality, seal and then verifying the three layers of filtration.
The material error, which does not change the quality of the product, occurs when inspecting the labeling of the box where it indicated, “no medical.”
In other words, either the label for the masks was incorrect or the items are not for use by workers in the medical field.
According to the authorities, the masks were received at the Social Security warehouses on June 30 and immediately distributed to healthcare workers. The immediate dispersement by Social Security was in response to the need to supply medical centers with essential equipment.
The administrative steps have already been taken with the supplier company to get the correct masks, Porras said.
Social Security has purchased and distributed among health workers more than 30 million units of personal protective equipment in the last 6 months as part of the emergency plan during the covid-19 pandemic facing the country, he said.
Should the Prosecutor’s Office also open an investigation into the purchasing process for the disposable face masks? We would like to know your thoughts on
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