‘It’s a struggle for a 76-bed hospital’


With the increased number of hospitalizations arising from the surge in COVID-19 cases in the CNMI and with the Commonwealth Health Center being a small hospital with only 76 beds, one of the concerns is for those with non-COVID issues, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther L. Muña.

Speaking before the House of Representatives Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday, Muña said there are a lot of non-COVID issues so it’s been a struggle for CHCC because CHC is not a big hospital.

She said they started operating a COVID-19 unit at the hospital with only four bed. Then it increased to eight and then 12 beds.

“It just keeps expanding and that means that we have to start reducing some of the beds that we’re utilizing for non-COVID patients,” Muña said.

She said they thought about transferring and opening the Transitional Living Center so see how they can move patients from the psychiatric ward. She said this was in consultation with psychiatrists to ensure that the transition is done in the right way, meeting compliance, and making sure that the patients and families were informed. They, however, did not proceed with that plan as there are certain things that had to be met to ensure compliance, and that it would also require a lot of movement.

Muna said at the Alternate Care Site, they have patients who have to be put on observation because they are COVID-19 patients. That means CHCC has to split its resources between the hospital and ACS.

“We’ve managed to use our other programs to help out, whether in logistics, communications, anywhere they can help basically make sure that we provide support for the medical staff,” she said.

Muña said that, with the change in contact tracing protocols, they’re more attentive to patients’ needs.

Before, when someone’s positive with COVID-19, CHCC’s immediate action was to put that person in quarantine and isolated at a government site.

“That was changed with the cases increasing,” she said.

Muna said everyone at CHCC is exhausted but they will continue to do what they can.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.