CHC Soon "Just a Building"

March 2, 2012


A March 1st meeting of 10 Commonwealth Health Center personnel and some CNMI lawmakers yielded no results. Nine frustrated physicians told Senators, House members and Acting Governor Inos that the situation is desperate and they are not looking at the human side of the crisis.

The already underpaid physicians, nurses and other personnel are not receiving their salaries or housing allowances, and they are not having their health insurance premiums or other payroll deductions paid by CHC. The hospitals are lacking critical supplies, equipment and services. Dr. Rabo stated that without needed funds the CHC would have to reduce services and staff by 40%.

The hospital is not functioning at safe levels because of lack of funding and childish CNMI leaders bicker stubbornly and attack the messengers instead of solving the problem.

The Saipan Tribune reported:
CHC's Dr. Michael Hart said the hospital is unable to provide a lot of services because it lacks a lot of things that could have been addressed had the line of credit bill been passed “yesterday.”

“Otherwise I must say that if this corporation fails, we're going to have an unprecedented historical mess in this place because the hospital is without staff, without physicians, without lab technicians, without anything. It's just going to be a building,” he said.

Some of them also straight out asked senators not to “micromanage” CHC by wanting to decide who should get hired and fired, and instead asked senators to talk to the CHC management team about these things.

CHC chief executive officer Juan N. Babauta is off-island, while CHC executive officer James E. Phillips was not at the meeting.
Rota Senator Paul Manglona appeared more concerned about criticism of the Senate bill then he was about finding a solution. He reportedly insisted that the meeting should be suspended until CHC administration could be present. 

Manglona also attacked Dr. Deary, the CHC Medical Affairs Director, who wrote an honest letter to the editor that was published in Saipan's major newspapers in an attempt to expose the crisis from the view of the physicians. Tinian Senator Ramon Cruz told Deary his "letter was not helpful " and Saipan Senator Ralph Torres told Deary, "You should get the facts straight."

Dr. Deary's letter may not be perceived as "helpful" to the politicians who care more about seeing their agenda pushed than about the welfare of the people or paying government personnel.  It certainly was helpful in letting the public know just how unsafe the situation at CHC is, and will continue to be unless their "leaders" act immediately. The letter was succinct, truthful and much needed. Surely, if it did not move the politicians, it will be burnt into the minds of the residents who watch helplessly as their "leaders" fail them yet once more.

Apparently the Senators do not understand the First Amendment. They should be glad that Dr. Deary took the time to warn the community and lawmakers as to the crisis at CHC that has been ignored for years. Those who criticized the physician should put their pride aside and concentrate on saving CHC before it is too late and the well-being of the people that they serve.

Another attack on the critically needed physicians was made by the Acting Governor Inos who questioned, "Do you have a problem with PSS getting $3 million?" It is unbelievable that Inos would insult the very people that the CNMI government is stealing wages and benefits from! If these good doctors were not seriously thinking of walking before, I am sure some are packing right now.

Although the lawmakers promised to work until a bill was passed to allocate funds to keep the CHC alive, they reportedly have not met to address the crisis since the meeting with the doctors.  The political games and stubbornness may just result in the loss of vital personnel and the total collapse of CHC.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

There will be no agency or administrative unit of government will succeed in this island because they are racist and think that they can do without outsiders. They don't receive willingly that they are the most idiot in the world that without any help from outside they will not survive. It's been 21st century and they are still not learned. If all outsiders will go as what they wanted, how could they survive. They should stop their feeling of being personally worthy if they cannot do it. Outsiders are not blind to see what these people are doing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you say here Wendy but things aren't always as they seem. The vast majority of the physicians at CHC are on island to escape the dreary and expensive, competitive real world of practicing medicine in the US mainland. Where else can a physician get a nice allowance to live on a tropical island? Nowhere. A lot of doctors have who work at CHC cannot cut it anywhere else. A US physician can make up to $150k a year at CHC. When you add it all up they make WAY more than they would in the States. For one taxes. Two, housing, travel, insurance and the basic fact that living in Seattle cost 10x Saipan. Things on Saipan tend to work themselves out in time. I laugh when I see these "fed up" doctors storm off island only to return a few months later, usually depressed and broke.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone knows that Dr. Dreary's days are numbered. I give him until May when a fresh doctor who has just finished their medical residency in the U.S. comes on board.

The senate is thinking of ways right now to bring on doctors from the Philippines who have not passed the U.S. medical boards and have not completed U.S. residency training on the cheap to replace these "unprofessional" U.S. doctors.

The reason that CHC does not recruit nurses from the mainland, or U.S. nurses from on-island for that matter, is that they know that the mainland nurses would speak up and do the same thing.

Wendy Doromal said...

10:58 Interesting. It costs far more to live on Saipan then it does in Orlando -I am counting housing, food, gasoline, utilities, clothing, medical costs, etc. And as far as living on a tropical island it all depends on where that island is and how the people are treated. I would never live in the CNMI in its current state, It is a place where "outsiders", whether they are U.S. citizens or foreigners, are discriminated against and looked down on; where the government is corrupt; where crime is rampant; where the healthcare system is collapsed. No thanks.

1:03 The CHC and CNMI can kiss goodbye any federal funding for the hospital and healthcare system if it brings onboard unlicensed physicians and other staff. How sick. (No pun intended.)

I hope that the unpaid physicians, nurses and other staff leave. The CNMI does not deserve their services, and the officials do not appreciate them. These employees deserve better -much better. Good luck to them all.

Anonymous said...

no need for them to act like they can do everything here in their island,coz they will and they have to!contract workers are moving out!

TAGLISH said...

You're absolutely correct, Ms. Wendy! I hope too these doctors and nurses leave all at once and shut down this hospital. This hospital has long been unsafe. These hard working doctors and nurses don't deserve to be treated like morons by these politicians. It is really scary if this hospital shuts down, but I think that could be the "thing" to wake up locals here and break their very annoying silence. Maybe, just maybe these poor locals will realize that they should be served and not used by these politicians.

Anonymous said...

manglona torres and cruz are racist idiots at best. they know nothing. they have no skills and their attitude is the very reason the CNMI is dying.

The Saipan Blogger said...

I have to disagree with you on the cost of living in Saipan vs mainland, Wendy. Saipan is MUCH cheaper than mainland living. Even with high gas prices, where are you going to drive? Rent is 5x more expensive in the mainland, too.

Wendy Doromal said...

I still believe it is cheaper here. I am not talking about renting a run-down room or apartment. You can rent a whole (Nice) house for $800 and up in Orlando now. Electricity is less than half of what you'd pay in Saipan. Food -there is no comparison on prices, freshness and availability of any kind of food that you want. Gas is more there and there is no public transportation. Add to that the quality of life and availability of adequate healthcare facilities, museums, restaurants, and cultural events....

Anonymous said...

This CHC situation is starting to look like the CUC generator shutdown and power brownout schedule back in 2008. Businesses and families were in disarray due to lack of a stable power supply. Suddenly Willie Tan saved the day with his Aggreko emergency generator buddies and his shipping company. Want to bet Willie boy will set a deal to take over CHC? He has a 51% stake in FHP/Takecare, owns a radio station, travel,shipping company insurance,hotels, all on Saipan.He even has bragging rights to having a certain governor in is pocket.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sure that a PLACE with a LOW minimum wage with HIGHEST gas price in the world will be very expensive place to live,I may be wrong but I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

What are you waiting for CHC STAFF? It will be impossible for alien workers to go for a WALK OUT even for a day for different reasons, but it would be a good move as an EYE opener for most of the PEOPLE who think of themselves only. YOU all know that where you are now was EXPECTED when the budget was (trimmed) to just $5 million and even the BOSS J. Babauta said if that will be the Budget for CHC then chc may have to reduce the number of staff down to 50% though he added that he will not. But it seems like he will not reduce the number of workers, he will just let the staffs to work with out pay, Is that okay with you? I don't think so. Just my opinion, yours is final.

Anonymous said...

They should leave and file suit against this stupid government. Sue them for all the salaries and moneys owed and sue them for the interest and for punitive damages. Watch because every last NMI leader whose responsible for the suffering of the peoples will suffer twice as much.let The pain they put on the workers and poor people will return to them and their own children. That is natures law and god's law.

Anonymous said...

To Taglish

I like your words "annoying silence" and we could say. . . . .
dangerous silence
ignorant silence
problematic silence
killing silence

I'm a 30+ year OCW who can't vote and I'm angry at voters for making stupid picks. I'm angry at officials who keep me in salve conditions. I'm angry at the rich officials who won't fix problems becuase they don't care. If they get sick they can fly to a good hospital. If we get sick we die. Another nail in the coffin. How much more will we take. Not just the CHC not getting paid. "Next weeK" should be the national motto of the NMI. Talk to OCWs and most are owed pay. Silence is killing us. Stand up and speak out against new laws and terrible treatments.

Anonymous said...

If everyone that had a debt at CHC would pay, there would not be a money problem. Many of the non-residents that owed large debts have left the islands free and clear. Many of the non-residents still on island owe big debts but will not pay. Service should be refused to anyone with a debt (excluding life threatening conditions). Same goes for residents. Do not release Birth Certificates until the bills are paid in full.

Wendy Doromal said...

6:09

The foreign contract workers who left the islands with medical bills unpaid were not responsible for them! Under CNMI law and their employment contracts, the EMPLOYERS of the foreign workers were legally responsible for ALL of their foreign worker employees' medical expenses. Complain to the employers. These are the same crooks who steal wages from the foreign workers!

No birth certificates can be held in exchange for payment, but it would make an interesting lawsuit.

the teacher said...

The Saipan vs Orlando or another US location cost of living is interesting.

Many things in Saipan are more expensive, including shopping, manufactured products, shipping, drinking water, and eating out. Gas is higher but CNMI residents typically don't drive 100 miles a day like in the US. Housing is much cheaper in Saipan on the low end and for upscale or western style, Saipan has such limited options that it is tough to compare.

People have been living here for decades making less than 5k a year because they pay 150. a month for housing and local vegetables are as cheap as the undeveloped world. On the other hand, my health insurance for three is 600. per month or 7200. a year, something I can’t compare with the mainland without Google’s opinion. Places to eat in Orlando seemed unbelievably cheap with great quality and service…see Orlando Ale House (1.5 lb lobster with 3 sides 12.99…a 70. meal in Saipan - or Sizzler all you can eat breakfast for 3.99) and all the others.

I truly think the CNMI is much cheaper than the average US mainland cost of living wise but if you are a tourist here, it is defiantly more expensive. But like my father pointed out here when I asked him about our high gas prices, “the gas doesn’t seem that bad but this is the only place I’ve ever seen that water costs more than gas”, a point our broke school kids know all too well.