‘CHCC not in financial position to open Rota dialysis center’

Cost benefit analysis forthcoming

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has responded to Sen. Paul A. Manglona’s (Ind-Rota) call for an update on Rota’s inoperable dialysis center, explaining that they are “not in the financial position” to move forward with its opening.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muna responded to Manglona’s letter in February, where he stressed that the facility’s opening was long overdue and a delay that has shifted costs to Rota patients who have to seek treatment on Saipan.

Muna’s March 4, 2016, letter explains the “major” renovations, repairs, and qualified personnel the dialysis center would need before opening.

Muna said that should CHCC undertake making the facility safe and ready for dialysis services—by making the necessary renovations and repairs and begin recruiting critical personnel that meet the required qualifications—“it will cost CHCC millions of dollars.”

“CHCC is currently not in the financial position to move with such undertaking,” she added.

However, Muna said they aim to look for opportunities that can help them fund the project, which was completed sometime around 2009, “in the future.”

Manglona told Saipan Tribune yesterday that Muna was on Rota Monday to meet with Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and the Rota delegation on the issues of medical referral, the hemodialysis project in question, and other health issues.

Muna also sent technical staff to assess the hemodialysis facility, Manglona said.

“CEO Muna assured the members that she will be giving us in a few weeks a break down on the cost to upgrade the facility as well as the staffing necessary to run the facility,” Manglona said in an email. “From there we will do a cost-benefit analysis.

“We appreciate her sincere concern on the health issues affecting our residents here on Rota,” he added.

‘Major’ renovations needed

Muna, in her letter, listed the concerns that “prevent CHCC from moving forward” with the opening of the facility.”

On water treatment, Muna said there must be evidence that the water used for dialysis center meets the water treatment standards of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation and that it is “biologically and chemically acceptable.”

Muna said the reverse osmosis machine that is currently in the facility would need major repair or replacement in order to meet the standards.

She also stated that “major” renovations are needed to ensure compliance of the physical environment, with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

Qualified personnel will also be needed as stated in the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulations.

“Personnel assigned to work in the facility must hold the qualifications in credentials and actual experience working in dialysis facility,” Muna said.

“The facility must have adequate laboratory services that provide tests of moderate complexity,” she added.

Muna notes that the Rota Health Center laboratory is not equipped to provide tests and would again require major renovation, additional qualified personnel, and adequate equipment to meet Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments or CLIA requirements.

Like Manglona, Muna said she desires to assist Rota residents in their dialysis services; however, critical areas were missed when the facility was constructed.

“It is important to note that prior to opening any health care facility, it is critical to ensure the facility is safe, functional, and sanitary and the patients and staff are prepared for emergencies,” Muna said.

“Compliance with regulations for dialysis services is significant for reimbursing and in ensuring financial sustainability of the program,” she added.

The $1.5-million dialysis center was built through federal Capital Improvement Project money. (With reports from Dennis B. Chan)

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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