Citing the dire economic situation of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment has issued an advisory that urges Filipino medical professionals to be cautious when accepting job offers on the islands.
“Due to the current economic situation, Saipan, the capital of CNMI, may not anymore be a viable destination for medical workers, or any other skills categories for that matter,” said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Tuesday, as quoted in Philippine media reports.
In issuing the advisory, Baldoz cited an Aug. 21 report of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan, which stated that possible opportunities for Filipino doctors and nurses at the lone hospital in the CNMI may occur as the medical facility is beset with resignations and demoralized staff. Due to the gloomy economic situation, however, the Commonwealth Health Center may not have the financial capacity to meet the payroll needs of new medical workers.
The report also said there is a virtual standstill in the operations of CHC, with no official declaration of any shutdown of operations having been announced but actual observation and news accounts still pointing to a de facto standstill.
Philippine Consul General Medardo G. Macaraig emphasized in a phone interview yesterday that the warning is based on CHC’s current situation as reported by local media, which recently reported, among other things, the hospital’s immediate jeopardy status as sanctioned by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the delayed salaries and unpaid housing benefits of its personnel.
“It’s a warning based on what we know from the ground here,” explained Macaraig. “We made an analysis and we attached clippings of Saipan Tribune and Marianas Variety and the link to the KSPN news report. The analysis also covers details that we don’t see in media reports. But that’s only a warning.”
“The situation is very fluid right now. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a question of financial resources,” he added.
Calls and emails to officials of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. were not returned as of press time.
Press secretary Angel Demapan, when asked for comment, said the administration continues to support efforts by the corporation to rectify its problems and stabilize the delivery of critical healthcare services in the CNMI, including the retention of medical professionals from the mainland and abroad.
“It is unfortunate that such an advisory was issued without taking the opportunity to discuss what actions are being undertaken by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to address its current challenges,” added Demapan.