Late payments worry health chief

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Posted on Dec 23 1998

Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez yesterday expressed concern over the health department’s delayed payment to some pharmaceutical firms supplying medicine to the hospital saying this may have a negative impact on the delivery of health care.

Villagomez said DPH has failed to pay for three to four months now several U.S.-based pharmaceutical firms and some local drug distributors. He did not identify them.

“We’re now three to four months behind our payment to our drug vendors. Some of them have already sent us notices. I cannot blame them, especially the local vendors, because they, too, have their own obligations to meet with their suppliers,” he said.

The delayed payments were traced to the cash-strapped government’s deep financial trouble.

Villagomez expressed fear some vendors will eventually refuse to take orders from the Northern Marianas health-care system because of its bad credit history.

“The worst that could happen is for them to refuse taking orders from us,” the health secretary said.

Records from the Commonwealth Health Center Procurement and Supply Division showed the hospital spent $141,565 for medical supplies last month.

The $56,746 was spent for pharmaceuticals or drugs and about $84,819 was used to buy medical supplies such as disposable syringes, surgical gloves, bandages.

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