Rotating docs in charge of Tinian patients—for now

Posted on Dec 30 2011

The Tinian Health Center currently has two rotating physicians, each providing the needed treatment for ill residents on island.

Healthcare corporation chief executive officer Juan N. Babauta told Saipan Tribune that visiting Dr. Patrick James Tong and Commonwealth Health Center’s Dr. Gary Ramsey are splitting their schedule for now to attend to the medical needs of Tinian residents.

The center’s lone physician, Dr. Steve Lebamoff, had recently resigned from his post. The doctor was hired early this year for $130,000 per annum. He replaced Dr. Priyawathan Wijay who exited the center in November last year.

Lebamoff was hired at the time when the health center was still being run under the municipality’s control. The corporation officially took over this function on Oct. 1.

Babauta revealed that Tong, who is on island for a short vacation, had expressed willingness to work part-time at the center and is expected to render services only up to a month. He said the corporation is actively looking for a permanent doctor for THC but admitted to being challenged by the government’s budget situation.

“We are just so broke that as much as we want to bring two doctors onboard [for THC], we are only able to get one…and we are under active recruitment now,” he said, adding that the rotating schedule of doctors for the Tinian center may last until a replacement for Lebamoff is hired.

Babauta also disclosed that in the absence of a permanent doctor, the corporation approved a 30-day contract for John Pangelinan, the center’s physician assistant who has been serving the center for many years. Pangelinan, he said, is highly regarded by the people of Tinian and has been a big help in providing medical assistance.

Despite the situation, Babauta assured that proper treatment is being accorded to all patients because of the center’s close collaboration with Commonwealth Health Center doctors.

Meantime, THC acting resident director Freddy Hofschneider told Saipan Tribune that the rotational basis for the two doctors is only up to yesterday, Dec. 30. He didn’t say if the terms will be extended or not.

THC has a total of 15 nurses. It accommodates about 50 patients daily during regular working hours.

Tinian Health Center has been criticized for not having a permanent doctor. Many residents have been complaining about the lack of medical services at the center.

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