‘This is preventable’

Posted on Dec 02 2021

A total of seven persons in the CNMI are right now in the hospital with COVID-19, with only one of them being vaccinated and all six others being unvaccinated.

This was learned during a virtual news briefing yesterday with Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther L. Muña, who said it is “disheartening,” “exhausting,” and “overwhelming” to see more unvaccinated individuals being hospitalized and others visiting the hospital’s emergency room reporting COVID-19 symptoms.

“Our current situation is disheartening and frustrating as we continue to see unvaccinated individuals admitted to our hospital [and Alternate Care Site] due to serious complications [related to] COVID-19. …And again we continue to emphasize that this is preventable,” she said.

All seven patients are receiving care at the hospital or at CHCC’s Alternate Care Site.

CHCC reported its first COVID-19 related hospitalization on Nov. 19. Before that, nobody in the CNMI had been hospitalized for COVID-19. That number went up to two on Nov. 24, when CHCC reported 98 new cases in the CNMI, and then went up to three a day later, together with 45 new additional cases. Active hospitalizations went up to four on Nov. 29, then climb to six on Nov. 30.

Muña reiterated that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and readily available for those eligible to receive them.

She said the hospital’s emergency rooms are slammed with individuals coming in with COVID-19 symptoms. This surge of COVID-19 cases hinders CHCC’s ability to tend to other patients experiencing severe complications outside of COVID-19, she added.

“We are seeing our emergency rooms slammed with individuals coming in with symptoms and it is overwhelming for us. …[And with] seven individuals now hospitalized, that is concerning for us as a health system. This hinders our ability to care for other patients experiencing severe illnesses ..regardless of their vaccination status,” she said.

Another point of concern for CHCC, Muña said, is the health and safety of the CNMI’s vulnerable populations, which include the elderly, individuals with preexisting medical conditions, frontline health care workers, and other front-liners.

In the CNMI’s fight against COVID-19, Muña said, “We all have a responsibility.” For her and CHCC, part of this responsibility is informing the community that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and readily available for those eligible to receive them. If applicable, Muña also advises receiving a booster shot.

“We all have responsibility …[and] we want people to understand that, first of all, the vaccine is safe and effective, and, if you are eligible, please [get your booster shots] as soon as we get more supplies,” she said.

Muña said that CHCC is temporarily running short on its supply of COVID-19 vaccines, but assured that more are coming by the end of this week. Muña added CHCC is working closely with the federal government to expedite vaccine deliveries moving forward, and said that, in a way, “it’s actually very encouraging to see that more people are getting vaccinated.”

As of yesterday, according to the vaccinatecnmi.com dashboard, over 40,000 individuals have at least gotten their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, almost 37,000 are fully vaccinated, and almost 8,000 have received an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The CNMI’s vaccination rate is currently at 86.9%.

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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