A Guam licensed family practice physician, who signed a settlement agreement over sexual misconduct allegations in Iowa, has recently faced similar allegations here on Guam.
Dr. Ugochukwu Akoma specializes in family medicine. He came to Guam in October 2017 to work for the IHP Medical Group. He then went on to work at the FHP Health Center, Guam Regional Medical City, and the Department of Public Health and Social Services, but he's no longer affiliated with them.
He recently opened up his own practice, the Hepzibah Family Medicine Clinic, in Tamuning.
On Jan. 8, Akoma signed a settlement agreement with the Iowa Board of Medical Examiners listing four allegations of sexual misconduct at medical facilities he worked at in Arkansas, Iowa, California and Texas.
The settlement agreement alleges “unwanted sexual comments” and “unwanted sexual advances” toward female co-workers. He is also alleged to have “violated appropriate examination procedures for female patients.”
Akoma said the allegations were made by his ex-wife during a bitter divorce and custody battle over their four children.
Under the settlement, the Iowa board "issued Dr. Akoma a citation and warning and ordered him to pay a $5,000 civil penalty."
In an interview with The Guam Daily Post on Monday, Akoma said, “It was going to cost me close to $60,000 or more just to go and defend this. So I said OK, we’ll make a settlement agreement.”
“I have never been convicted or tried on any of these allegations,” he said.
Akoma said the Texas medical board conducted an investigation and dismissed the allegations. He said California’s medical board “did not take up” the allegations.
He said the Guam Board of Medical Examiners reviewed the allegations, cleared him and granted him a license to practice here on Guam.
Aug. 8 Guam board meeting
However, since his arrival on Guam, another allegation of inappropriate conduct has been reported to the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, allegations which Akoma has also denied.
Meetings of the Guam Board of Medical Examiners are recorded and made available to the public on the Office of Public Accountability website.
During the Aug. 8 GBME meeting, Vice Chairperson Dr. Joan Gill said, “We got a detailed report from IHP including copies of screenshots from someone’s phone” and “there was interaction with another staff member who you asked to meet you in another room.”
Akoma acknowledges that he was informed about the complaint by an IHP staff member who accused him of “making improper comments” and accusing him of touching her inappropriately.
Akoma said, in the recorded GBME meeting, if the employee felt uncomfortable, “I would be glad to apologize right away. Nothing was intended, nothing was meant.”
In the same Aug. 8 GBME meeting, Akoma spoke in detail about his divorce, saying, “In 2015, I was going through a rough time maritally.”
He said when he signed the settlement agreement in January, he was broke and could not afford to fly back to Iowa to defend himself.
“I don’t think we want to investigate all these prior allegations,” Gill said. “Most of the accusations were pretty minor. The really severe ones were thrown out.”
“My concern is,” said Gill, “you go through all this, you come to Guam ... why would you do something that could be misinterpreted?”
Akoma said he was very tired and when he was walking back to the break room, an IHP employee asked him “what’s going on?” He acknowledged putting his arm around her and saying, “You may as well shoot me now, just take me home, I want to go home.”
He also acknowledged to the board that he told the same employee, “You look so good, you should be a model.”
Akoma said he was not aware that what he said caused the employee to become uncomfortable. “At that point in time, I didn’t think anything of it.”
The Guam board “unanimously voted there is no violation of the Physicians Practice Act."
However, they did express concern about the lengthy history of "workplace-boundary issues."
According to the minutes of the GBME meeting, Akoma acknowledged the concerns and agreed to:
• Continue counseling for a minimum of 12 months subject to the board's discretion to extend the term, and have a psychologist submit a quarterly progress report to the board;
• Participate in an online professional boundaries course sanctioned by the Federation of State Medical Boards and submit proof of completion to the board; and
• Inform present and future employers to provide a monitoring system and submit to the board on a quarterly basis for 12 months.
Iowa Board of Medicine settlement agreement
Akoma told the Post that the allegations made against him in the states were all made by his ex-wife and they involved co-workers, not patients. He said none of the employees filed any criminal complaints against him.
It wasn’t until 2016, he said, that his wife filed the sexual misconduct allegations with medical authorities in all three states he had worked in. He said his wife also filed complaints with the FBI and the Army. The Texas hospital at issue in his case is an Army medical facility.
Akoma said he shared the complaints made by co-workers with his wife after he came home from work. He said his ex-wife did not have firsthand knowledge of the allegations, saying she “chronicled” these allegations based on what he told her.
The first allegation listed in the settlement agreement against Akoma dates back to 2007 while he was employed at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences program.
It states that Akoma “engaged in a pattern of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in violation of the laws and rules governing the practice of medicine ... when he made unwanted sexual advances toward female co-workers at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Residency Program between August 2007 and April 2008.”
While practicing medicine at Davis County Hospital in Bloomfield, Iowa, in 2013, the settlement states, Akoma made “unwanted sexual comments and sexual advances toward female co-workers and violated appropriate examination procedures for female patients.”
According to the settlement, between April 2014 and April 2015, he made unwanted sexual advances toward female co-workers and performed an inappropriate physical examination on a female patient while practicing medicine at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Chico, California.
The agreement also notes Akoma had his clinical practice placed in abeyance pending an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct while practicing medicine at Brooke Army Medical Center, in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in November 2015.
According to the settlement agreement, if Akoma ever returns to Iowa to practice medicine, he will be required to have “a board-approved female health care professional chaperone continually present when treating female patients – or when minor children are only accompanied by a female.”
“I’m not planning on coming back to Iowa. I’m not planning on working in Iowa, you know, forget it,” he said.