15 to 17 CHC admin staff to be terminated

Fifteen to 17 administrative staff at the Commonwealth Health Center are expected to be laid off as part of a reduction-in-force to help sustain the cash-strapped Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.

Juan N. Babauta, the corporation’s chief executive officer, disclosed that these employees will be let go within the month to “significantly reduce” the personnel cost at the Commonwealth’s lone public hospital. The corporation spends some $1.7 million for about 600 employees on three islands per payroll.

The termination of some administrative staff comes about a week after Babauta announced that 24 employees from the Tinian and Rota health centers will be affected by the reduction-in-force.

Before that, CHC already laid off 19 personnel at the Community Guidance Center. This brings to about 60 the number of affected full-time employees since the reduction-in-force was implemented in an attempt to balance the corporation’s meager budget.

This number does not include those employees who have resigned in the wake of CHC’s financial crisis. Babauta said a total of 30 registered nurses and four doctors have already called it quits and will be leaving in the next month or so.

Babauta noted that the corporation was only given a budget of $5 million to cover personnel and operations at the hospital when they took over that responsibility from the Department of Public Health in October 2011, as compared to the $38 million that DPH used to receive from the central government.

The need to balance the budget was immediate, according to Babauta. “Balancing the budget would mean that if we’re going to be operating based on the money we got, we would have to cut the staff by 45 percent.”

Babauta emphasized, however, that cutting the staff by 45 percent “would literally cripple the hospital,” adding that they also need to meet the requirements of Medicare for the hospital’s continued certification, thus deciding on a 30 percent workforce reduction “on an incremental basis.”

The corporation’s budget headaches have resulted in delayed salaries and housing allowances as well as unpaid hospital vendors. CHC is currently under a state of emergency to allow the reprogramming of funds to prevent a hospital shutdown and to amend the contract with the Idaho-based International Consulting Services LLC for its medical billing services without going through standard procurement rules.

Jun Dayao Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

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