CHCC receives $2.5M for utility arrears

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The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. got a timely assist from the central government when it agreed to pony up over half of the $5 million that the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is demanding CHCC to pay by Aug 6.

CHCC board of trustee chair Lauri Ogumoro said the central government will transmit over $2.5 million, half of what CUC is asking for, to CHCC this Wednesday, July 29. In exchange, CUC will not shut off CHCC’s power.

“There is a promise from the central government to give us some funding by next Wednesday [July 29]…and we’ll be able to hand it over to [CUC] as a first installment,” said Ogumoro.

When asked if CHCC will be able to pay CUC the rest of the $5 million by Aug 6, Ogumoro says that, for now, she is confident that they will be able to pay CUC $2.5 million by this Wednesday. She described the $2.5 million as a “good faith effort” from the central government to enable CHCC to pay its utility bill.

The fund transfer comes after the CHCC board of trustees met with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, and Finance Secretary David Atalig at the Office of the Governor on Capital Hill last July 24.

As a means to control its power costs, CUC earlier asked CHCC to put the hospital on generator for at least six hours everyday but Ogumuro pointed out that this is against regulations of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

CHCC did go on generators after both Super Typhoon Yutu and Typhoon Soudelor, Ogumoro said, but since CMS will be on island to certify the Alternate Care Site, CHCC will get in trouble with CMS if it is found operating via generators. “We anticipate CMS here to certify the alternate care site for COVID-19, and they could just walk into the hospital and if they see the generator is on, then we will be in pretty bad shape. So we pointed that out [to CUC], and they [CUC] understand, that so that won’t happen,” said Ogumoro.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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