CHCC urges public to consult primary care physicians


The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. suspended its non-emergent surgical care effective Aug. 16, while a malpractice suit—where the CNMI government and two former CHCC doctors stand as defendants—is pending in Superior Court.

The Superior Court earlier ruled that provisions of the Government Liability Act are unconstitutional.

While the non-emergent surgical care is not available at the hospital, CHCC CEO Esther Muna said, “individuals should continue to communicate with their primary care physician for their care, including discussing their needs for surgical care.”

A primary care physician is a health professional who practices general medicine. Most primary care physicians are doctors and usually the first stop for medical care. They may oversee an individual’s healthcare needs, help patients make decisions related to treatment, or refer the patient to other specialists if needed.

The suspension of non-emergent surgical care at CHCC emerged from the malpractice lawsuit filed by Remedio Elameto and Pedro Pua against the the CNMI government and doctors Gary Ramsey and Rajee Iyer.

Elameto and Pua claimed medical malpractice, bad faith, and emotional distress and loss of consortium.

Elameto claims that a surgical team at CHC left a surgical clamp inside her abdomen during surgery to address her irregular period and ovarian cysts in August 2000. The clamp was discovered in June 2014, almost 14 years and removed at Guam Memorial Hospital.

The CHCC surgical staff indicated to Muna after court decision came out on Aug. 14 that they were unwilling to perform surgical procedures, as the risk of liability is to great without protection. CHCC is the only hospital on Saipan.

Bea Cabrera

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