Partnerships with GRMC, GMHA sought

CHCC wants to bring in specialty care to CNMI

Talks between the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the medical centers in Guam were made to establish a better partnership with regards to providing for the medical needs of the CNMI.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muna told Saipan Tribune in an interview that she recently met with the CEOs and chief medical operators of Guam Regional Medical City and Guam Memorial Hospital Authority.

Muna said among the topics they discussed is how best to provide specialty care to patients in the CNMI since it is not something that the hospital has but the Guam providers offer.

“We also talked about the possibility of them coming here,” Muna said.

“[GRMC is] also open to the fact that they can bring the providers here,” she added, “For GMHA, we’re even talking about, if possible, affiliation.”

Muna said it is still difficult for them to recruit specialty care doctors for the public hospital. However, since Guam has doctors such as oncologists and cardiologists, they are working on getting those specialties on island.

“It’s trying to make it easier for our patients, for CNMI residents to get access to quality as well as specialized care,” Muna said.

She also recognized the importance of being able to bring in those providers on island, and bring them immediately, in case of emergency.

“In case there’s an emergency, some patients are not able to be transported. So what do we do? How do we save the life of that individual? Sometimes the only way to do it is to bring the provider in,” Muna said.

“Any life-threatening illness, time is always of the essence so we want to be able to have that option. We’re grateful for them meeting with me to try and get these things happen,” she added.

Muna said they are all excited and positive on the partnership and want to be able to move forward.

“They want to do it because no matter what, the patients come that way anyway,” Muna said.

“It’s just a matter of finalizing this deal, this agreement to make sure that, first of all, from the CMS standpoint, whether its telemedicine or the fact that they are visiting, we always have to have a contract and they also have to be licensed. Any physician has to be licensed in the CNMI In order to provide services in the CNMI,” she added.


Director of Medical Referral Services Ronald Sablan said bringing in doctors here is ideal and will result in savings.

“I’ve always recommended in the past that we be able to bring in specialists in a rotation basis,” Sablan said, “That will not only help us in sending people out just for consultation, but also on basic treatments. Assuming that the support staff and the equipment are here.”

He said he hoped that there can be a way for the implementation of reciprocal license where a doctor practicing in Guam who met the requirements as a U.S. certified doctor can automatically be allowed to practice in the CNMI.

“That will be a great help for patients here. We can bring in those doctors that can come here. Instead of us sending the patients there to be seen by one doctor, the doctor can come here and see more patients,” Sablan said.

Around 300 to 400 patients are being referred to Guam every fiscal year.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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