CHC pharmacy closed on weekends

The Commonwealth Health Center’s pharmacy, one of the key areas of the public hospital, was ordered closed during weekends due to the lack of staff.

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. CEO Juan N. Babauta confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday that CHC pharmacy will be closed during Saturdays and Sundays until the organization fills the vacancy for a pharmacist.

The closure of the hospital pharmacy started last week when in-patient pharmacist Anthony Raho went on terminal leave.

Raho, who is also an elected board member of the corporation board, quit his job to join the private sector effective yesterday, July 5.

Babauta said that CHC has only one pharmacist left since Raho’s departure. He said the decision to temporarily close the pharmacy is to avoid the lone pharmacist from being burned out. Until a replacement for Raho is found, the weekend closure will stand. Babauta said.

He, however, assured that the pharmacy will be open during weekdays.

According to Babauta, the corporation is now working on the details on how a locum pharmacist can come in quickly. “We’re currently working on that now. In fact, we’re starting to process one locum pharmacist,” he told Saipan Tribune.

As a longtime CHC pharmacist, Raho shares that the volume of in-patient clients they accommodate varies each day. “But there’s always critical work to be done, complicated drugs that needed to be provided to patients at the hospital.”

Raho admitted that with only two staff at the pharmacy, CHC’s struggle to satisfy all in-patient services will continue. This will be exacerbated, he said, when only one is left to attend to all these needs.

A hospital pharmacy ideally has three staffers, Raho said.

He said that not having enough pharmacy staff in a hospital is always a concern for Medicare. He said pharmacists are the only specialists allowed to create medications.

Saipan Tribune learned that the supervision of the patient with acute disorders and the dispensing of specific drugs are the core principles implied in most in-patient pharmacist jobs. They deal daily with dietitians and members of the medical staff and helps them to devise and implement suitable nutrition plans and drug therapy treatments and procedures.

Since last week, some medical providers temporarily stopped accommodating patients who are using Medicaid as their insurance due to the non-payment of reimbursements from the Medicaid program.

When asked if the CHC Pharmacy is ready to accommodate the influx of Medicaid patients, Raho immediately said no.

“I can say, 100 percent not ready. It can’t handle Medicaid at all. We have only one pharmacist left and even when it has two staff, it is still a struggle just to provide the services to the in-patient population and a lot of Division of Public Health programs,” he said.

By Moneth Deposa

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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