After several months of talks and back-and-forth negotiations, a permanent physician has finally been identified for the Tinian Health Center.
Interim Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Esther Muña disclosed to the CHCC board of trustees on Wednesday that Dr. James Toskas will start work at the Tinian clinic on Monday, Sept. 2. She said they went ahead with this decision despite the “intervention” of some lawmakers against Toskas’ transfer. She did not elaborate.
Dr. Toskas is one of two full-time doctors at the Rota Health Center. His transfer to the Tinian clinic came about after the corporation found great difficulty in getting a permanent physician for the island.
“We did give a notice to Dr. Toskas that he has to start by Monday, Sept. 2, basically right after the holiday. He did mention that unfortunately, he wasn’t completely ready. But we have this discussion since July 23 so I told him that the intention is not for him to suffer but we just want to make sure that he moves there. The bottomline is, by Oct 1, he will be completely out of Rota and will be working full time at the Tinian clinic,” Muña told the board.
With Toskas’s transfer to Tinian, the Rota center will be left with Dr. Francois Claassens as the center’s sole physician.
Dr. Frank Pair, at the time the newly hired physician for Tinian, unexpectedly passed away in early January, resulting in the position becoming vacant.
Doctors from the Commonwealth Health Center on Saipan were temporarily assigned to the center from Monday to Friday, with no weekend coverage.
Prior to Pair’s appointment, the last permanent doctor on Tinian was Dr. Steven Lebamoff. He resigned in early 2012.
Since then, nurse practitioner Arley Long has been in charge of the delivery of services and has been working all days of the week at the Tinian clinic. She provided diagnosis, treatments, and referred patients to CHC for further tests and evaluation. All emergency cases are referred to Saipan.
The Tinian Health Center, which provides both inpatient and emergency care, has about 30 personnel, including its resident director. These employees include nine nurses, a laboratory technician, an x-ray technician, two pharmacists, two staff for environmental health, one staff for the medical supply office, two for housekeeping, two trade maintenance workers, and three at its accounting unit.
In an earlier interview with THC director William Cing, he said the center, which mostly serves as an outpatient clinic, accommodates about 25 to 30 patients daily. On weekends, an estimated two to four patients usually come in to seek treatment and other services.