The delay in the processing of Commonwealth-only work permits has affected some nurses at the Commonwealth Health Center.
Already short-staffed units such as the pediatric unit and the medical-surgical unit were reduced further by one nurse each as their CW-1 permits have yet to be released.
According to CHC director of nursing Leslie B. Camacho, the two nurses have already stopped working.
“We do feel it with the shortage of staff anyway on those particular units, but it’s definitely not as dramatic as other companies or corporations,” Camacho said in an interview.
“It hasn’t affected us too badly. Not until the big group that’s going to be in the summer,” she added.
Camacho said a bigger batch of nurses would be requiring CW renewals around July of this year.
The hospital has about 152 nurses, more than 80 percent or about 127 of which are foreign workers.
Camacho said they are already working on the renewals of the next batch even earlier than the prescribed 90 days in advance.
“We’re doing it in advance to try and prevent delays if at all possible,” Camacho said.
Up to 8 months
Aside from renewals, the hospital is also having a hard time with their petitions for new hires.
Since last year, they have been working on nine petitions for nurses from the Philippines and haven’t been successful in any of them yet.
Camacho said all the requirements for hiring the nurses—including NCLEX and CNMI nursing license, which take some time to be processed as well—have already been met and only U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services process is hindering these nurses from coming to the island.
“It’s just the USCIS. We won’t recommend hiring without the NCLEX and current CNMI nursing license,” Camacho said.
The nursing director noted that the petition process usually takes them about five to eight months.
“It’s a very lengthy process so by the time they get here it’s already almost due for renewal. It’s a bit challenging,” Camacho said.