‘Only way stop spread is practicing public health mitigation measures’

Posted on Nov 30 2021


Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Esther L. Muña emphasized yesterday the importance of practicing public health mitigation measures to combat the spread of COVID-19,

During a virtual news briefing where she gave updates on he four unvaccinated individuals who are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, and the CNMI health care system’s capabilities to tend to current and future COVID-19-related hospitalizations, Muña said that CHCC is equipped to care for the four and any future COVID-19-related hospitalizations, but reminded that any increases in the number of CVID-19-related hospitalizations would have a toll on resources and staff.

“Our team is there, and they’re very able and capable to treat the patients that we have right now…[but] we are at a level where it’s tiring, it’s exhausting— it’s exhausting our healthcare system for sure—[and] it’s going to cost us a lot of money because this is additional [working] time for our staff. …We have very committed people, but they have families at home too,” said Muña.

She added that CHCC is waiting for support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the next couple of days, with FEMA personnel going to be assigned to the CNMI to aid CHCC with the administering of monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment and providing support to any of CHCC’s additional medical efforts.

There are currently four active COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the CNMI, with all four being unvaccinated and 50-plus years and older, according to yesterday. Muña said all four are experiencing severe symptoms and are receiving Intensive Care Unit-level care.

Muña said there are four rooms identified at CHCC’s hospital for the care of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and that any additional hospitalizations will be cared for at CHCC’s Alternative Care Site.

In previous news briefings, a frequently asked question are if the positive cases of COVID-19 are linked to clusters. At this point in time, COVID-19 transmission is widespread, she said.

However, while reported cases continue to rise, it is through the CNMI’s high vaccination rate and the community’s continued practicing of public health mitigation measures that COVID-19-related hospitalizations are kept to, relative to the number of cases, a minimum, she added.

“The only way for us to stop it is [by] practicing the public health mitigation measures. …But if you are not [practicing these measures], then [spread] is going to continue. I do want to say again that because of our vaccination rate and [because] we are pushing for boosters, we’re seeing [fewer] hospitalizations. Yes, there is an increase in hospitalizations, but …if you measure based on the [number] of positive cases, we are seeing a low number of hospitalizations,” said Muña.

However, from CHCC’s perspective as the CNMI’s sole hospital, the numbers are high, said Muña. She added that CHCC’s capabilities and the fact that it is the CNMI’s sole hospital are factors taken into consideration when the CNMI’s health leaders create and implement the CNMI’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

“In the eyes of the health system [and] the hospital, it is high, because we are the only hospital in town, and we are working tirelessly to try to ensure that the patients are cared for. When we put in protocols, we always talk about how our health system has to be a factor in ensuring that we are able to handle this because it is going to be the health system that’s going to be running the operations [and] seeing all these patients that are needing care,” said Muña.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time. Reach out to him @rarebasedjosh on all socials.

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