CHCC tackling workforce challenges


Administrators at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. are tackling the workforce challenge fueled by the cap on CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker (CW-1) visas, and are working to prevent another shortage in the future.

“Although a large portion of our healthcare workers are on CW-1 visas now, CHCC is working aggressively to move away from this dependency,” said CHCC CEO Esther Muna.

“We have prepared a new tiered payment scale that offers more competitive salaries for our current nurses and will attract more U.S.-qualified workers, but of course, this is dependent on funding. We’re applying to become an eligible site for U.S. nurse loan repayment under the National Health Service Corps that graduate nurses from accredited nursing programs from Guam and the U.S. mainland can avail of while working for CHCC. Loan repayment has been an effective incentive for medical providers and we expect it will help us bring in more nurses as well,” added Muna.

CHCC is also working closely with the Northern Marianas College’s nursing program to ensure that graduates become licensed registered nurses. A new cohort will graduate from the NMC this month, and CHCC will pick up as many graduate nurses as possible, but there won’t be enough to cover the shortage. CHCC is hiring a preceptor to work with NMC graduates to help ensure their training and education continue beyond graduation. Assistance will be provided by the CHCC to help nurses pass the National Council Licensure Examination, and stateside nursing schools are also being tapped to bolster the workforce.

According to Human Resources director Clarinda Ngirausui, “We’ve signed an agreement with Fernandina College in Florida and will be providing clinical training for their newly graduated nurses. “Representatives will be coming here to tour our facility this month, and we’re in negotiations to get traveling nurses to fill gaps during our leanest times this summer. These traveling nurses will have the specialty we need to ensure that quality care is maintained for our patients.” (PR)

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