Visiting acting Interior deputy assistant secretary for Insular Affairs Eileen Sobeck and Sally Howard, chief of staff of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, led a group of federal officials in a courtesy visit to Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos Monday morning, and discussed issues mostly about the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
The visit comes shortly after Tony Babauta resigned as Interior deputy assistant secretary for Insular Affairs. The resignation is effective Feb. 1.
Press secretary Angel Demapan, however, said that Babauta's replacement “was not a subject” of Monday's 9am meeting at the Office of the Governor on Capital Hill.
“The courtesy visit was simply for the visiting officials to inform the administration on the purpose of their visit, mainly to evaluate the progress at CHC since the deployment of the Commission Corps. At the same time, the officials will use this opportunity to begin planning and projecting what types of challenges will still need to be addressed moving forward,” Demapan told Saipan Tribune.
When asked whether the governor will ask for additional help for CHC, Demapan said, “This will be dependent on the findings of the group after this trip and the exit report at the end of the Commission Corps’ 90-day deployment period in March.”
Accompanying Sobeck and Howard were Office of Insular Affairs legal counsel Wendy Fink and OIA Director Nik Pula, along with other OIA officials.
In December, then acting governor Eloy S. Inos announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the CNMI and U.S. agencies, paving the way for a team of medical staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to start providing critically needed medical personnel to CHC for 90 days.
This is an unprecedented joint effort among federal agencies to help meet the CNMI’s immediate health care needs.
Under the MOU, the U.S. will be providing a deputy chief executive officer, clinical laboratories director, clinical laboratories manager, nurse manager, pharmacist, physicians, and nurses, to CHC.
The hospital is currently under a state of emergency.