17 nurses face possible exit

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Posted on Sep 16 2020
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Seventeen licensed practical nurses and one radiological technician are facing the possibility of being sent back to their home countries as their immigration papers have expired, which means they only have 10 days to obtain a reprieve or be forced to exit the CNMI.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña said the immigration papers of the nurses and x-ray technician expired yesterday, Sept. 15. However, with a 10-day grace period, Muña is hoping that something will be done before the month ends.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is pinning its hope on a letter that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres wrote U.S. Labor Secretary of Eugene Scalia, where he asked Scalia to help expedite the process and grant of Temporary Labor Certificates for the 17 LPNs and radiological technician. The 17 nurses include 13 on Saipan and four on Tinian. They are all Philippine nationals.

According to CHCC public information officer Lee Tenorio, CHCC’s human resources is working as hard as it can to remedy the situation. Part of making sure that these 18 individuals are taken cared of means ensuring a smooth process if they do exit the CNMI.

To ensure that hospital operations are not adversely affected, Muña said they have a contingency plan in place should they not obtain the needed TLCs.

The 18 individuals have been on the island for many years and CHCC wants to be sure that they accommodate them and provide them relief so they could stay, Muña said, adding that the hospital is petitioning these 18 individuals for permanent resident status, so the hospital wants to make sure not to do anything that would prevent that from happening. She stated that it’s a slow process and something they have to deal with in the midst of a pandemic. Muña said the petitioning process will still continue even when these personnel are in their home countries.

“Our relationship has not ended. …They’ve been here for years, [and] they don’t have to feel this uncertainty all the time,” said Muña. She added that as of right now, they’re working hard to prevent them from leaving.

Should these 18 individuals actually exit the CNMI, the next available opening to get work visas in their home countries is March 2021, both Muña and Tenorio said.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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