CHC Death Imminent

April 13, 2012

It does not seem possible that the Commonwealth Health Corporation could get to the state that it is in now in a year, two years or even ten years. The decline had to have started a decade or more ago to have reached this level of debt and crisis. Where were the audits, the reports, the checks and balances, and the plan to turn things around? This institution declined to a state of utter bankruptcy due to years of sheer mismanagement, incompetence, neglect and complete lack of oversight.

Not unlike many CNMI government run agencies, it appears that obvious problems at CHC have been ignored and any profits were absorbed by unnecessary and foolish political appointments and the misuse of funds. By political appointments, I mean bloating the staff to create dozens of incompetent and unnecessary positions in the tradition of the "exchange a job for a vote scheme".  From an outsider's perspective it looks like Juan Babauta's appointment was an "exchange a job for the position of leader of the Republican Party scheme". How does that help the hospital or the people of the CNMI in any way?

Now the CHC is on life support. This is not an accidental death, but a deliberate failure of the CNMI officials and hospital administrators, past and present.

The CNMI leaders and government need to take responsibility to fix this mess. The pattern is for CNMI leaders to gather together to address the crisis for a day to shish any public outcry. Then, as in all things CNMI, they walk away and focus their attention and energy on the typical nonsense – writing resolutions to earn some brownie points with constituents, recognizing criminal business leaders, handing out certificates and awards, appointing felons to cabinet positions, planning and attending political events, or scheming to push a casino or another unpopular bill down the peoples' throats. The problems never are completely addressed so they grow and the neglect and incompetence multiplies the problems. Think CUC, Retirement Fund, ARRA, the mess in the OAG, corruption in government agencies, unpaid wages, and on and on -all problems never fully addressed or solved to the detriment of the people.

Vital physicians are leaving CHC in disgust. It was announced this week that 17 nurses will leave, and even more are searching for jobs elsewhere. Instead of viewing this as a crisis, some are saying that the institution can recruit replacements. Did it ever occur to the leaders and administrators that the disgruntled and cheated medical personnel will return to their homelands and report to officials and the public on the working conditions, the theft and the state of CHC? Did it even enter the minds of the leaders that the federal government may not allow foreign workers in an insolvent business, whether public or private, that cannot and does not pay the salaries and contractual benefits to the foreign workers?

Did it ever occur to the U.S. Government that it will be the one picking up the tab when a class of foreigners working on U.S. soil under a federal immigration system, that was knowingly allowed to be abused and robbed, demands reparations or sues? The DHS was warned that it should not issue CW permits to employers who presently owe foreign workers back pay or who cannot demonstrate that they have the income to pay their workers. When the foreign governments get complaints from their abused citizens and they demand justice, the responsibility to make them whole will rest with the U.S. Government. What is everyone thinking?!

The way the people of the CNMI and the leaders abuse and kick around the foreign workers, they do not deserve to have them. Fairly soon it will be impossible for the CNMI to recruit any top-notch foreign worker with growing knowledge of the prejudices and discrimination against foreigners, the declining state of the infrastructure, the lack of a working hospital or safe environment, and the fact that both the CNMI and U.S. Governments allow the routine theft of employees in both the public and private sector.

The CNMI government has a habit of allowing things to deteriorate to crisis level and then demanding help from the U.S. Government –the same government that the CNMI bashes, attacks and sues continually. It is almost as if the leaders know that no matter what they do, no matter the level of incompetence or corruption, Uncle Sam will step in to save the day. It is pathetic to watch this happen over and over. It is wrong.

If the U.S. government does step in with funds to save the CHC, then there should be some level of responsibility. The CNMI should be made to pay back every penny borrowed to fix the messes that it made. There is something very unsettling about a community that refuses to raise its own revenue, refuses to levy any reasonable sales, property or income tax and always has its hand out to the U.S. taxpayers.

The CNMI's own delegate runs on the platform that he has gotten millions in U.S. money and will continue to bring home the bacon. The press and local people praise the delegate for bringing in the U.S. money. Of course, federal funds should be shared and the CNMI deserves a fair share of federal funds. However, the CNMI Government should also be raising its own revenue and taxing its own people to pay its bills and obligations.

There is absolutely no sense of pride, no accountability, and no responsibility in running a government the way the CNMI is operated. Whether from a agency or department to the CNMI government as a whole, there is no priority or attention to increasing revenue, building assets or becoming more self-sufficient. The leaders have created a welfare state mentality and government agencies and the people are becoming more and more dependent on U.S. handouts. It is counterproductive. Combined with the unwise political appointments and lack of focus or vision, how will things change for the better?


Anonymous said...

The Philippines POEA has new regulations and now will require bonds from a Philippine licensed bonding agencies for repatriation expenses and 3 months of salary for new directly hired nurses.

CHC however will not need to hire off-island for some time because there is still a glut of nurses available "working" at other clinics. One health clinic on Saipan previously required 6-12 months of "volunteering" to be hired in the facility. Many of the replacements from the past two years at CHC came from that particular facility. Even without the housing allowance, CHC still pays higher than almost all local clinics (FHP is an exception). How many ads did we see for nurses with 4 year degrees earning $5.00/hr. for private clinics last October? Those nurses are waiting for the chance to be hired at CHC right now.

Wendy Doromal said...

9:26 Thank you for the valuable information. Good for POEA. It is also good news that the hospital will have nurses available if the CNMI government can come up with funds to pay them and a plan to revitalize the CHC. As it stands now, it is probably not safe for any person with a serious medical condition to remain in the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

You are incorrect. The seventeen nurses are not leaving CHC because they are fed up or leaving in disgust. They are cashing out of the CNMI retirement fund. CHC will be and always has been a state run hospital funded by the United States Governmnet. CHC like many hospitals in the US right now is bankrupt. BTW nearly all the doctors who have left in the past have returned to work at the CHC.

Anonymous said...

4:05 hahahaha nearly all the doctors that left have returned! uh-no.

Wendy Doromal said...

Read this article to see why the nurses are leaving. Retirement is one reason. The article also stated: "The many uncertainties at the hospital have also played a role in the en masse departure of nurses, including the delayed payroll, housing perks that have been on hold for five months now, the untimely release of personnel allotments, the lack of assurance and support from government, and most importantly the lack of medical tools and supplies to effectively carry out their duties."

Seriously, it is a horrible place to work with low salaries compared to the U.S. and other developed countries.

Anonymous said...

What is amazing about this "health Corp." Is that when it was proposed and passed and "some" details were made available, anyone with the barest "math" skills could see that this was doomed from the beginning with only $5mil "seed money".
It didn't take a 6th grade education to figure that out.
All saw this except for the elected and the Fitilites.

I am so curious as to where the remaining $30mil savings went to?
It did not show up as a savings or re-appropriated to some place else. (that I am aware of)

As far as "on Island CW nurses", for them to stay they have to have a job.
For any of the others at other clinics to go and work at CHC they also have to be approved for a CW Cert.
The question will be IF the Feds will approve any such work permit under the present condition at CHC?
What will happen when all of these contracts are up for renewals on the people that may be left at the end of the year? Will they be approved/ Assuming that any would stay.
Now the other question is "will payroll be met this week? Or the next, etc?
Since it seems that nobody at any place in the Govt. is capable of any real planning past a Casino phase, this situation at CHC truly does not seem to have any type of good outcome in sight.

BTW how can any CW Nurse "work for at least 1yr on volunteering basis"? They would be illegally in the NMI if this was to happen.

Anonymous said...

"BTW how can any CW Nurse "work for at least 1yr on volunteering basis"? They would be illegally in the NMI if this was to happen."

Although there are much less than in years past, there are still non-resident nurses on-island who are volunteering. They could be a benificiary of a CW visa, such as a spouse. They could also have a CW visa pending/approved at a manpower service on an as needed basis, or have a CW visa pending/approved for a different full or part-time job in another job category. CHC does not have a training program, so a new non-resident graduate is better off volunteering to get some experience.

Although CHC may not be making payroll on time, the CNMI government itself has had problems not to long ago making payroll as well. I seriously doubt that the USCIS will deny any permits to CHC hospital (even with failure to consider U.S. workers and solvency problems) because they do not want to take the blame of shutting down the islands only hospital.

Anonymous said...

1:51, It looks like there won't be any problem with the Fed worrying about "shutting down the Hospital" if they don't approve any CW petitions.
CHC is doing that all with the help of Babauta and his cronies, the legislature and the Gov.
Possibly by next month there won't be nothing left but an emergency room. (If that)

Anonymous said...

If you have children under 16 you have a parental duty to get out of the CNMI. You are putting your children at serious risk. The ER is barely functional. You cannot even get a proper x-ray.