Muña: Two pharmacies possible at CHC


Two outpatient pharmacies operating at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.—the PHI Pharmacy and CHCC’s own outpatient pharmacy service—is possible, according to CHCC CEO Esther Muña.

“We are okay with that. We have different goals and we may have dual services but, at the end of the day, there is a choice for the patient. The purpose of the program is nothing negative on PHI. Our vision is still basically the continuous improvement in the quality of healthcare,” said Muña.

The drive for CHCC to have its own outpatient pharmacy is to be able to provide post-patient care on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

“The presentation at the House last week was about our vision of offering some services such as transitioning to out-patient. Currently, we handle in-patient pharmacy. While the patient is under our care, we administer in-patient medication. …When CHC transition to an out-patient service, there is continuity in our service from in-patient to the out-patient side.”

“With this system, an out-patient pharmacy will be able to look at a patient’s medical and medication history, therefore guaranteeing that the medication prescribed or given is based on patients’ statistics.”

CHC and PHI Pharmacy currently do not have that system and the records they keep is not shared.

Muña said another reason for expanding CHC’s out-patient pharmacy service is the opportunity to generate income that will improve the operations and service of the hospital.

“Having an out-patient service is an opportunity for CHC to save, generate revenue, and ultimately reduce our cost. In areas where you can’t reduce the cost, we find ways to generate revenue that will offset the cost.”

“The hospital cafeteria, for example. We have available food for patients that is required by [the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services] and the dietary department. The challenge for us is how do you make that department—a requirement by a regulation—become an income generating entity?

“We’ve manage to reduce some expenses and then we realized that a lot of the expenses are because of regulatory requirements. Regulations and requirements are expensive to comply with, that’s why healthcare is expensive. We want to offset those by generating our own income so that healthcare in the CNMI will be affordable for everyone,” Muña said.

CHC intends to provide healthcare that is in tune with the changing times.

“We are thinking on a global scale. We have got to be prepared. We are not only looking at pharmacy per se; this is really about planning for the future. Right now, we have a pending healthcare bill in the U.S. Senate, the American Healthcare Act. If you really look at it, there may be some changes that will affect the CNMI. Whatever the result is in the U.S. legislation, change in the healthcare model is inevitable and we at CHC are preparing for that,” Muña added.

She said Rep. Angel Demapan (R-Saipan) plans to put out a resolution to support CHCC for the 340-B enrolment and Muña firmly believes that if there is an opportunity, there will be benefits for the community.

Bea Cabrera

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