The Commonwealth Health Center will soon lose one of its respiratory therapist, leaving the hospital with only two such specialists-a far cry from the four to five full-time therapists that are needed for the smooth operation of the respiratory therapy department.
It was learned that the recently resigned respiratory therapist accepted a position in Guam. This leaves only Doug Remington and John Slusser at the unit to maintain 24-hour coverage.
It was learned that the recent decision to eliminate the housing allowance for off-island staff added to the concerns of respiratory therapists, who receive a smaller salary compared to their counterparts in Guam and the U.S. mainland.
The housing allowance-which was $600 for single employees and $800 for those with families-make up a large part of the total compensation received by respiratory therapist and other affected hospital personnel.
A respiratory therapist educate, diagnose, and treat people who are suffering from heart and lung problems.
Saipan Tribune learned that the respiratory therapy department ideally has five personnel but currently has only two specialists onboard after the departure of two other therapists recently and the pending resignation of another.
Assuming that the two respiratory therapist work without zero overlap, it is feared that both will eventually burn out. It is also not possible to maintain 24-hour coverage with only two therapists at the unit.
Respiratory therapy is a requirement for continued Medicare certification.
Sources disclosed that the medical director of the respiratory laboratory, Dr. Michael Koning, has already conveyed this concern to the corporation and recommended the immediate hiring of replacements.
Corporation CEO Juan N. Babauta told Saipan Tribune that he is now working on this and that the vacant positions would be advertised soon.
Babauta confirmed that one respiratory therapist would soon leave the unit after the employee accepted a $50,000 salary in Guam for the same position.
Babauta admitted that with the financial condition of the corporation and the hospital, “it's very hard to compete with places that offer high salary for medical professionals such as RTs.”
Babauta said the situation at the respiratory therapy department remains normal at this time because of some nurses helping out.
Saipan Tribune learned that the corporation already has a short list of potential candidates for the positions. These are trained respiratory therapists who are currently on island.
Meantime, many supplies for the public hospital are now coming in. Corporation staff and employees, it was learned, were very pleased upon seeing the unloading of supplies last week.
Babauta confirmed with Saipan Tribune the delivery of many hospital supplies since last week. Due to budget constraints, immediate supplies at CHC have been scarce for several months.