CHCC to help PSS train young people as outreach workers

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Posted on Oct 02 2020

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With the high demand for nurses for its health screening needs, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. plans to train young people to do the work of a health outreach worker in the Public School System.

Tim Thornburgh, PSS Federal Programs manager, said that they had a conference call with CHCC CEO Esther Muña, who suggested that PSS should hire young people, and that CHCC will help PSS train these young people, who will serve as outreach workers and will be stationed in schools.

Using the Education Stabilization Fund it got from the federal government, PSS has set aside $550,000 to hire 22 part-time nurses for 10 months, to be deployed for each public school and take charge of health screening procedures like checking for temperatures. The problem, though, is that PSS has been having a hard time hiring nurses, and Thornburgh said in previous board meetings that no nurses have been applying for the position.

Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan, PSS senior director, said that they opened two requests for proposals for nurses but no one responded to their RFPs, and it appears there are not enough nurses on the islands.

Board of Education member Marylou Ada insists that PSS should hire nurses because children are also vulnerable to COVID-19.

BOE member Andrew Orsini believes it is not possible to have a nurse in each school, so he suggests hiring only a few full-time nurses and giving them several schools assignment to visit.

According to Pangelinan, they might have a better chance of hiring outreach workers, who can take students, teachers, and school staff’s temperatures. She added that they don’t need experienced nurses to take temperatures. The young people they are looking to hire will serve as a gatekeeper of the schools. Pangelinan said that they don’t need to have a nursing degree or experience to ensure everyone follows COVID-19 safety precautions.

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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