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Doctor shortage frustrates emergency patients

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, July 14, 2009) - There was a long line of waiting and frustrated patients at the Commonwealth Health Center yesterday, said Taotao Tano president Greg Cruz who visited CHC.

Cruz said he was surprised to see only two doctors -- Greg Kotheimer and Larry Hocog -- taking turns in attending to the patients in the emergency and reception rooms. Cruz said 25 to 30 patients told him they had been waiting for hours.

He said the nurses and some clinic personnel told him there were not enough doctors to see all the patients, so they had to wait.

According to Cruz, there were also many patients waiting outside the dialysis department, one of whom told him she had been waiting for many hours.

"These patients were told to wait, and nobody told them there was actually no doctor available," Cruz said, adding that none of the doctors wanted to talk to him.

Cruz said he looked for acting Department of Public Health Secretary Pete Untalan but he was told the official was on leave.

Cruz said he decided to check the hospital himself because the Department of Public Health never replies to his inquiries. He said it is unacceptable to have a hospital where patients who are in need of immediate care are told to wait in the lobby.

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