Torres looks forward to signing nursing scholarship bill


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, seated fourth left, and Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), sixth left, join officials of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Northern Marianas College’s Nursing Department, Commonwealth Health Center nurses, and those in the private sector for a group photo after last Wednesday’s signing of the CNMI Nurses Week. (Jon Perez)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres looks forward to signing a bill that aims to provide financial assistance to students who would pursue nursing degrees.

During last Wednesday’s signing of CNMI Nurses’ Week proclamation at the Office of the Governor, Torres expressed hope that the Legislature would finalize this special scholarship program for nurses by the end of the summer.

The bill, Senate Bill 20-71, intends to entice more students to go into the medical profession, whether on or off-island, then return to the CNMI.

Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) introduced the bill to create a nursing school professional scholarship. It passed the Senate last December and is awaiting action at the House.

S.B. 20-71 ultimately aims to fill the need for more nurses at the local hospital, the Commonwealth Health Center.

Torres, who said he is aware that nurses are a critical component of every healthcare system, is thankful for Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther L. Muña and the Northern Marianas College’s Nursing Department for their efforts in making sure the CNMI has enough nurses.

“[CHCC CEO Muña], thank you for your continued effort in making sure CHC continues to provide all the programs that we have. Thank you also to NMC for making sure the nursing program continues to flourish,” Torres said.

“For every graduate you have, it will not only just provide stability in our healthcare system but also lessen our dependency on foreign workers and our CW1 issues by encouraging our youth [to pursue nursing].”

The author of the bill, Palacios, said he sees the importance of S.B. 20-71 after being raised in a family that’s in the medical profession. “I come to appreciate this as I look back on the services our parents provided to the CNMI.”

“They leave home to work at the hospital and have to leave us to the care of our aunts and grandparents. We are reminded that medical and healthcare are the most critical service in our community,” said Palacios.

He said that the CNMI Legislature has always recognized NMC’s programs, especially the Nursing Department. “The scholarship program that we introduced will hopefully makes its way to the House and to the governor’s desk for signing.”

“NMC has provided support on this piece of legislation. Without [NMCs] assistance and them advocating for it, it might not be at this stage where it is awaiting approval at the House. It should have been an issue that we should have addressed a long time ago that would help stabilize all the uncertainties that we are experiencing right now,” Palacios added.

The CNMI is celebrating Nurses Week from June 10 to 16, with Torres signing the proclamation last week to honor the hundreds of nurses in the CNMI.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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