Despite the best efforts of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to recruit respiratory therapists, the public hospital continues to experience a shortage in this area, according to CEO Juan N. Babauta.
The dearth of respiratory therapists at the Commonwealth Health Center was earlier identified by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as among the major concerns that need immediate rectification.
Babauta disclosed that the Respiratory Therapy Department of CHC is losing therapists, a concern that if not immediately addressed would impact the hospital's services.
He disclosed that the hospital has only two full-time respiratory therapists and one part-time.
Ideally, Babauta said, the RT department must have four to five full-time therapists and maybe two part-time specialists in order to smoothly carry out the function of the unit.
A respiratory therapist is a specialized healthcare practitioner who educates, diagnoses, and treats people who are suffering from heart and lung problems.
Babauta said the corporation is actively recruiting for this hard-to-fill position as soon as possible to address the citations from CMMS.
CHC's condition of participation in Medicare and Medicaid will be decided next month by the federal health agency. Having enough respiratory therapists is a requirement for continued Medicare certification.
“We're still short of respiratory therapists at the hospital and this is one concern cited by Medicare that we need to immediately address or else it will affect our status with CMMS,” Babauta told Saipan Tribune.
The departure of many CHC employees, including RTs, was earlier blamed for the uncertainties at the public hospital. The corporation on average pays its respiratory therapists only $14 per hour compared to higher offers for similar positions in Guam and the U.S. mainland.