September 18, 2012
After the unannounced visit to CHC, the U.S. Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Region XI put the CHC on Immediate Jeopardy status. According to the CMS website, Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) is defined as "a situation in which the provider's noncompliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or is likely to cause, serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to a resident."
The Marianas Variety reports that the reason for the IJ status was:
“Patient Safety Issues for not having a cardiac monitor /defibrillator in the OR [operating room] suites/PACU [pediatric acute care unit] area.”I am surprised that this is the only reason cited. How about having only one feeding tube? How about being short of bed sheets and linens? How about not paying the CUC bill and having threats of the power being cut again? How about not having adequate supplies? How about threats that the emergency room would close? How about not being able to pay vendors? How about an exodus of doctors and nurses?
How about not having money to pay the salaries of the nurses and physicians? In December 2011, CEO Babauta stated that the CHC's payroll was $1.2 million monthly. How can the staff be paid if the revenue falls far below this amount?
This week it was reported that the U.S. Department of Labor has (finally) determined that there are wage violations at CHC. The Saipan Tribune reported:
Deanne Amaden, U.S. Department of Labor regional director for public affairs, confirmed with Saipan Tribune that a total of 101 hospital employees were found to have not been paid properly for services rendered between January 2010 and January 2012. The federal agency ordered the payment of back wages amounting to $105,366.66. Amaden disclosed that many of these affected employees are nurses who work beyond their scheduled shifts.While it was reported that employees did receive some back wages, housing allowances are still outstanding.
The governor has played games with CHC for years by declaring various "states of emergencies" to be able to manipulate the institution. In July 2011 the governor hired Juan Babauta for $1 to help with "health issues and attend the Region 9 conference in San Francisco. In October 2011, the governor appointed Babauta as CEO of the CHC.
The CNMI elected leaders are totally responsible for the failure of CHC. Who in their right minds cuts a hospital budget from as much as $42 million in 2006 to $5 million in 2012 and think that it can survive? CEO Babauta stated last week that the hospital must have a budget of $40.2 million for the 2013 fiscal year to survive. Today it was announced that the budget panel agreed to allocate only $5 million to the hospital that is on life support. That move is pulling the plug to ensure its death.
It is hard to believe that anyone with a minimal amount of business background and intelligence would not understand that CHC cannot survive unless it has an adequate budget. Perhaps it was the plan all along to let CHC crash and have the federal taxpayers come in and once again bail out the CNMI.