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Monday, April 21, 2014

CHC nursing director resigns; nursing shortfall at 44

After two years as nursing director of the Commonwealth Health Center, Leticia Reyes has left the position for undisclosed reasons. Saipan Tribune learned this from hospital employees who asked not to be identified.

It was learned that Reyes last reported for work on Dec. 24, 2013, days ahead of the expiration of her contract this month. She tendered her resignation with Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. interim CEO Esther Muña, who declined to comment on the issue when asked Friday.

Reyes was hired at the hospital in January 2012 during the term of former CEO Juan N. Babauta. She was tasked to oversee the nursing department’s over 200 staff, including ancilliary services personnel.

When asked for comment, CHC hospital services director Jesse Tudela confirmed Reyes’ exit but said he is unaware of the content of the resignation letter because it was directly submitted to the CEO’s office. He maintained, however, that it is business as usual at the hospital.

Named acting nursing director is Mildred Keller.

According to Tudela, CHCC is now in the process of hiring Reyes’ replacement. In fact, he drafted a memorandum indicating the critical need to fill the post as soon as possible. A job vacancy announcement for the position is upcoming, he said.

As of Friday, the corporation has a total of 181 nurses, including at the clinics on Rota and Tinian, Tudela said.

To fill the 225 FTEs for nurses it is authorized to hire this fiscal year, the corporation will need to employ 44 more nurses.

“That’s the figure that we need [225 nurses], so essentially we need to hire 44 more nurses of which majority are needed at CHC,” Tudela said.

He is optimistic that once the corporation is able to hire more personnel from outside the CNMI, critical vacancies will be filled not only at the nursing department but all medical professionals needed on the island.

Tudela said that getting experienced nurses is among their priorities. He reiterated that not too many nurses or related professionals can be found on the island.

Despite the lack of manpower in some units of the hospital, Tudela said the corporation has been successful in addressing the deficiencies identified by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during a September 2012 survey.

As of Friday, the federal health agency has yet to issue a decision on the survey. “We’re still trying to meet all deficiencies and concerns and we’re awaiting CMS response to our report so we can do the necessary corrections,” added Tudela.

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