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SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 22) – While saying that the government can't prevent some nurses from leaving, acting Gov. Diego T. Benavente hopes that nurses-especially Asians-see one good reason why they should choose the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas: It's closer to home.

Benavente said he heard accounts where some nurses who left for the mainland U.S. had opted to come back "because CNMI is closer to home."

"It's always exciting to go there but there's an instance where once they're there (U.S.), they go through a hard time partly because it's very far. So some actually returned. They came back to CHC," he said. "That's true, if you're here, you can easily go home. It's very near. That's why they prefer it here," he said.

Benavente's statement followed reports that some directly hired nurses decided not to renew their contract with the Commonwealth Health Center this year because they have found job opportunities mostly in the U.S.

The Department of Public Health shifted to accelerated direct hiring system last year to solve morale problems and improve its health care delivery in general.

DPH said it found that agency-hired nurses are less motivated to work for CHC because they received lower pay compared to government-hired staff.

For his part, Benavente said that the government could not really do much if nurses choose to leave the CHC.

But he said that that the administration is doing its best to offer more incentives, including a possible pay increase, to keep nurses and other medical professionals in the CNMI.

"We try to give incentives such as increasing the salaries of nurses. The governor and I feel very strongly about increasing nurses' salaries," he said.

November 22, 2004

Saipan Tribune


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