Bill to revert CHC back to former status in the works

A piece of legislation has been introduced that would revert the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. back into a line department, according to an interview with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres yesterday.

He declined to comment on a Saipan Tribune report that he had asked the CHCC board to replace chief executive officer Esther Muña but said there is a pending legislation that would make the hospital a line department.

During the Division of Customs Services graduation yesterday, Torres told reporters it would be best if he did not comment on the situation at CHCC. “I know I was going to come across this. At this point, it is best that I don’t,” he said.

Torres said it is best that he does not comment because there is a pending legislation that was introduced by House vice speaker Janet Maritita (R-Saipan) that would revert CHCC back into a line department.

“The Legislature has introduced a bill to put it back as a line department and I believe that it was the vice speaker who introduced that. It is an ongoing issue,” he said.

Before the CHCC was created, the over-arching agency was the Department of Public Health. Under that was the hospital, the Commonwealth Health Center, which was also governed by a board. Torres did not state whether the pending legislation would revert CHCC back to this setup or not.

Torres said the Legislature has its own concerns with the situation but whether the board decides to keep Muña or not, there is still a legislation that will revert the corporation back into a line department.

“We’re going to go back and talk to the Legislature because they have their own concerns. We’ll see what the board has to say. Obviously it’s a decision they do, whether to keep her or not, and we have a legislation to bring it back as a line department,” he said.

Whatever route is taken, as far as the CHCC staff are concerned, Torres said there is funding to support them.

“At the end of the day, I want to share that regardless of what road we take, there is funding. We just gave $ 2.7 million to CHCC,” he said.

Torres said he would ensure that the doctors, nurses, and staff of CHC are taken cared of, whatever legislation is passed.

“I am dedicated to ensure that we give them the funding that they need, up to $5 million every six months, and I say it because I want to dedicate those priorities so that the doctors and nurses get all the supplies that they need. Nothing will hamper that progress,” he said.

Torres assured that there will be no disruption to the current progress CHC is making.

“If there is progress, and whatever progress that has been made, we are not going to come in and disrupt any progress but simply give more resources and additional attention to what the doctors and the nurses need and the whole management,” Torres said.

Kimberly Bautista Bautista
Kimberly Bautista is the youngest in the stable of Saipan Tribune reporters. She has covered a wide range of beats, including the community, housing, crime, and education, for the Saipan Tribune.

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