The Kagman Community Health Center board of directors can now focus on making sure some of their plans would materialize, now that the legal drama involving the facility that they are using had been settled.
KCHC re-opened its doors last Saturday morning, with KCHC board chair Velma Palacios, chief executive officer Vince Castro, and some of their staff welcoming Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) to the facility.
The KCHC medical staff, led by director Dr. Katherine Elstun, will start seeing patients again starting today; they can be reached at 783-7102.
KCHC used to sit on land that was titled to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. The title to the property has since been transferred to the Department of Public Lands, which then titled the land to the Governor’s Office, which in turn, transferred the title to KCHC. Those transfers were assisted by the Office of the Attorney General and Office of the Governor’s legal counsel Gil Birnbrich.
Torres signed the memorandum of agreement late Friday night when he was attending the Marianas March Against Cancer at Hopwood Middle School to make sure KCHC would resume its operations as soon as possible.
Now they are back at their original facility, Castro said the board could now discuss some of its plans for the CNMI. “Now that we’re independent, we can certainly make the board’s vision into fruition much quicker.”
“We’re basically now be able to expand and we already have our strategic plan. Again, thank you all for their support. We’re back here, because the community wants us here. We have license to use the premises and for our services to continue here.”
Palacios said that they want to work with the Office of the Governor and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. in opening up other clinics in the CNMI. “We will continue our mission of providing continued healthcare.”
“We do have plans. We want to work with the governor and the CHCC in providing other clinics in other areas in the CNMI. Our goal is to also go to Rota and Tinian,” added Palacios.
Torres welcomed the news and looks forward to KCHC’s plans in providing healthcare in the entire CNMI soon. “I’m confident that they would continue to provide healthcare. I hope that we could extend that to other villages.”
“We’re looking forward to have them in the north side like in the Tanapag and San Roque areas, in Koblerville and San Antonio in the south. Also on Rota and Tinian. It would cover the entire CNMI.”
Torres said the transfer of the license to KCHC went through the right process, with him signing the MOU while he was at the Office of the Governor’s booth at the MMAC last Friday night. “It went through the right process. The AG was even part of the transaction.”
“It is no different with what we did with the Hope Center. It is public land given to the government and the government turned it over to a non-profit organization. And [KCHC] is a non-profit organization.”
Torres added the government did the same with the hospital and the other facilities on Capital Hill that was under public lands and were given to the government, and to different divisions like the Public School System, Women’s Affairs Office, etc.
He said his office had been working out a solution to the crisis even before he left for his trips in Oregon and Alaska. “I’ve been updated with the situation even when I was off island.”
“I even talked to the AG to iron out all the differences…. But, like I said, at any rate we should have not closed the clinic. We should have talked through our differences.”
Senate President Palacios (R-Saipan) added that with the issue settled, it now a new beginning for KCHC. “Now, the slate is clean. …We had our disagreements in the past but, for the sake of the community, we will set those differences aside and move forward. We must also do our best to have a better relationship and communication in the future.”
Velma Palacios thanked the Santa Soledad Parish and the entire Kagman community.
“We are really thankful to [Santa Soledad Parish priest] Rev. Fr. Jesse Reyes for letting us use the social hall so we could continue to provide healthcare services. He [Reyes] saw the importance of KCHC for his community here.”
“Thank you to all your hard work in keeping us here, wanting us to stay here, and the outpouring of support. The issue should really have not come this far.”