CHCC staff have ‘expressed exhaustion’

Posted on May 12 2021


The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. was already quite busy before the COVID-19 pandemic but the pandemic just piled on more responsibilities on the shoulders of the CNMI’s health care workers, so much so that many have not taken advantage of their vacation time.

With the pandemic dragging on for more than a year now, many are expressing exhaustion, according to CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña.

When asked how her staff is doing, Muña said they are exhausted, but they are trying hard to get back to normal business so that staff can use their vacation hours. That includes bringing in vaccination teams from the U.S. to help with the vaccination sites.

A new team of vaccinators who will help with the vaccination campaign arrived on Saipan last week Thursday. They are from NuWest, a team of travelling nurses. They will be helping at the vaccination site at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center and at the Medical Care and Treatment Site at the Commonwealth Health Center, while also helping with the village outreach.

“We are trying to pull ourselves away from [vaccinations] and just do oversight. …We would like to have a lot of focus on the hospital,” said Muña.

According to her, there are over 900 staff that need to go on vacation or take their vacation leave. She said it’ll be difficult to figure out how the hospital will be able to do that, but she knows the hospital staff deserve “wellness time.”

“We’re looking at ways to try to [do] that and take care of them, because at the end of the day, they’ve been taking care of all of us and now we’re going to try to take care of them as well,” said Muña.

The hospital oversees the Alternate Care Site in Susupe, the vaccination site at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center, and the MCATS at the upper CHCC parking lot.

On top of those responsibilities, hospital staff oversees the swabbing and collection of specimens at the different quarantine sites, testing for all arriving passengers from Guam, charter flights that require to be tested before they leave the island, getting the vaccines to the community—all while doing their regular duties at the hospital.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
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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