Although there’s a recommendation to increase the salary of Esther Muña, the Commonwealth Health Center’s interim chief executive officer, Gov. Eloy S. Inos told Saipan Tribune yesterday that his office has yet to decide on the issue.
“Right now, Ms. Muna is serving an interim position at the request of the board. I believe the board wanted to maintain this status because she’s doing a great job. [In terms of her salary] I haven’t come to that point yet, but you do realize that Ms. Muña is serving an interim position?” he said.
The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board earlier proposed to the governor that Muña’s salary be adjusted after her appointment as interim corporation chief in April.
Muña is currently receiving $85,000 per annum. The board wants this increased to $96,000—the same amount paid to Muña’s predecessor, former governor Juan N. Babauta, who was fired early this year.
Inos also said yesterday that it’s not yet definite if the government will hire a permanent hospital CEO from outside the Commonwealth.
This decision, he said, may be reached once the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is done with its resurvey of the hospital.
The corporation expects a team from the federal agency to visit the hospital soon to validate the plan of corrections the hospital submitted in response to many deficiencies the team identified in a prior visit.
Once the hospital resolves all CMMS citations, Inos said his office will then review the issue of hiring a permanent CEO.
“Once we get out of these citations, then we will take a look and do some reviews. [From there] we will make a decision as to the fate of the position [of CEO], if we will fill it from outside or within [the organization],” he said.
Inos is optimistic that the hospital resurvey will show positive results. He lauded Muña for the hospital’s many improvements that he believes will bring good results for the facility.
The governor also applauded Muña’s idea to tap the services of retired nurses on island for the hospital.
“We have local residents who have been in the nursing profession and are retired. These folks are willing and able to perform the job. Maybe they can form a corp of retired nurses through a nonprofit organization and the [corporation] could have an agreement with that group so that whenever there’s a need, they can tap the resources of this organization. I commend the interim CEO for looking at alternative ways to ensure the delivery of healthcare,” said Inos.
The CHCC board earlier disclosed that the governor’s office had vowed to shoulder for at least a year the salary of a permanent CEO and CFO, using the governor’s discretionary funds.
Since the hospital first issued its vacancy announcement for a CEO, several off-island candidates have expressed interest but, according to the board, most are seeking a high salary and the corporation may not be able to afford it.