CNMI ASKING HEALTH OFFICIALS WRONG QUESTIONS

Editorials

Mariana Variety

SAIPAN, CNMI (Oct. 16, 2009) - The secretary and acting secretary of the Department of Public Health couldn’t make it to the legislative hearings because of prolonged illnesses. This partly explains why there are so many problems at the hospital. If you accept the responsibility of serving in these important positions then it is your duty to present yourself for inquiries into your department’s operations.

Clearly, the governor isn’t well served by these individuals and neither is the general public.

However, it is also wrong to assume that the legislative hearings would produce any significant results. Not only did the hearings come too late, they are too close to an election. The questions asked, moreover, were completely off the mark. Instead of inquiring about the quality of service, whether there is adequate equipment, qualified personnel, supplies and materials, legislators seem to be emphasizing the lack of logistical support available for patients while in a foreign hospital.

It would seem to most that patients are fortunate to be medically evacuated to hospital with better facilities. The CNMI, of course, remains dependent on off-island hospitals thanks to years of poor management at CHC, bad budgeting priorities, political hiring and spending as well as a shallow Legislature. Instead of exploring why so many patients must be medically evacuated and whether the local hospital, fully staffed and funded, could handle some of the load, some legislators would rather ask why patients’ logistical needs aren’t being met or why they are permitted to feel alone in a strange land.

Lawmakers, the principal consideration should be whether the referral was necessary and whether the treating hospital was competent.

Besides, what land would not be strange when you are ill and have never left your homeland?

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