Three more doctors recruited from outside the CNMI will boost the medical workforce at the Commonwealth Health Center this month to 27, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. interim CEO Esther Muña.
These new doctors will be assigned at the public hospital’s internal medicine department, OB-gynecology section, and pediatric unit.
Muña said the new internal medicine doctor will supplement the four at the unit and will begin work in February. The one for the OB-gyne section is expected to begin this month and will join the two currently assigned to the unit. The new pediatrician is set to join CHC in March. CHC’s pediatric unit currently has four full-time doctors. Another locum physician is expected to join them soon.
These new recruits, Muña said, were approved two-year contracts.
The arrival of the three new doctors will boost CHC’s medical workforce to 27, including the two physicians assigned at the Rota and Tinian clinics.
At present, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has 24 physicians. These include four at internal medicine; three at the pediatric clinic; two at surgery; three at the emergency room; three anesthesiologists; one nephrologist; two assigned at the clinics; one at the psychiatry department; two OB-gyne; one for the tuberculosis department; one on Tinian; and one on Rota.
Filling the gaps are two part-time pediatricians at the Family Care Clinic; six physician assistants stationed at the ER and other units; and four nurse practitioners.
The hiring of additional doctors, Muña said, will mean better service to patients. At the pediatric unit alone, the clinic can now be opened regularly as a result of the additional staff, she said.
CHC was forced to close service hours at the pediatric unit in recent past due to the lack of attending physicians or providers like nurse practitioners and PAs.
CHCC is also scouting for a new orthopedic surgeon—a position that Dr. Grant Walker recently vacated. Muña disclosed that a qualified candidate has been identified and would be brought in using a J-1 visa. But as to when this will be realized, Muña said that everything depends on the processing of documents.
Another anesthesiologist is also being recruited to replace one who resigned.
According to Muña, the corporation was able to tap in November the services of a visiting dermatologist, who does missionary work on the island and Guam. Since then, the doctor has been conducting periodic visits at CHC, which shoulders the physician’s transportation and hotel accommodation while on mission.
Despite these successful efforts to bring in new doctors, Muña conceded that the hospital continues to have an unstable number of physicians and is hiring more.
The difficulty in getting medical staff for CHC is mainly caused by the demand for high salaries among potential recruits. The corporation pays its doctors a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $265,000 per year, depending on their expertise.