Wednesday, September 23, 2009

House Oversight Meeting On Public Health

Garapan Elementary School
I attended the House Oversight Meeting on Public Health yesterday at the Garapan Cafeteria. It was actually a pretty good turnout with about 40+ people coming and going throughout the night. Most of the discussions were confined to the problems at CHC. It was very intesting to hear from the nurses working at CHC at to what the problems were. One nurse in particular stated that she thought that the salaries of the doctors were actually not that low considering that doctors would not be required to purchase malpractice insurance and the tax rate of the CNMI is lower than the mainland. She went on to say that the salaries of the nurses however were a major problem. She cited a specific example of a nurse in her department that was there for 25 years and was making less than 30,000 a year. She stated that most doctors stay a few years and then leave, but many other health care professionals such as nurses have been on the island for many years, but they are often overlooked. The nurse that spoke stated she had been on the island for 15 years and instead of a bonus they had cut her housing allowance. Afterwards a physical therapist working at CHC, almost in tears spoke about her loss of her housing allowance, and then stated it seems that the salaries for nurses are getting worse and worse. At first the nurses lost the night shift differential in pay, then the housing allowance.

I'm not sure that any of the testimony of the nurses got through to any of the legislators, but at least they were able to hear it. Many people who spoke mentioned not only problems with doctors, but the support staffs, supplies, equipment, and even food that needed looking in to.

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