PHI lease at CHC not extended

Posted on Aug 09 2019


A PHI Pharmacy customer waits for his medicine. The PHI Pharmacy’s lease extension with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. was denied last Wednesday by the CHCC’s board of trustees. (Marc A. Venus)

With the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board of trustees’ decision not to extend the lease of PHI Pharmacy inside the hospital, the corporation is looking forward to a bigger space to accommodate its expanding number of services.

Acting in CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña’s stead, Subroto Banerji said the board’s decision to opt out of the lease extension was primarily because of the lack of space at the Commonwealth Health Center and the increased number of services at the hospital.

He assured that there are no issues between CHCC and PHI Pharmacy, as the main concern is directly related to CHCC’s lack of space for its service providers.

“This building and its purpose are to serve Commonwealth residents and so every inch of this building has to be directed toward that mission,” he said.

Banerji said that the CHCC was built at a time when the CNMI population was around 21,000; the Commonwealth now has a population of over 60,000 individuals.

“We have outgrown our storage capabilities… and we’re utilizing this space inside for direct patient care as much as we can,” he said.

Muña’s current priority is to provide more hospital services, reduce off-island travels for medical purposes, and bring quality care to the people of CNMI.

According to Banerji, CHCC has added more services for its patients in the last six months alone.

“Even before now, with the increased [number] of services that the CHCC has been bringing to the Commonwealth, we’re bursting at the seams already,” he said. “In order for us to continue to deliver high quality care that the patients want, we need as much space as we can possibly use for our providers of additional services.”

Banerji said that they will meet with their service providers to discuss the additional space that will be created at CHC once PHI’s lease is over. Some of the items for discussion are patient accessibility and services that are better situated with direct access to the population.

He thanked CHCC’s director of Medical Affairs, Dr. John Tudela, and the other service providers for taking the lead in bringing in new physicians. Banerji said that there has been an increase in the recruitment of internal medicine doctors, pediatricians, and a podiatrist.

“A few months ago, we had an oncologist on islands, which we haven’t had before and there are a variety of services that are being provided that we didn’t have before…and we’ve expanded our footprint,” he said.

PHI Pharmacy’s lease at CHC will expire on Oct. 14, 2019.

Marc Venus | Reporter
Marc Venus is the Saipan Tribune's public health and education reporter. He has an associate degree in Applied Sciences in Computer Applications and is working on his bachelor’s degree at the Northern Marianas College. Contact him at

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