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Despite consulate closure, community to provide free care

By Junhan B. Todeno

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 6, 2012) – Filipino health providers who have been providing free health screening programs will continue their community services for their compatriots even if the Philippine consulate shuts down.

Ernie Molina, a nurse from the Commonwealth Health Center and one of the pioneer health volunteers, said they will find a way to continue the program.

The imminent closure of the consulate, he said, will not stop them from providing free health services to the Filipino community.

"We will try our best to assist them because we know how expensive it is to get medical services at private clinics and at the hospital," he said, referring to Filipino workers.

One of their options is to coordinate with the United Filipino Organization (UFO) to continue the implementation of the program, said Molina, who has been providing free health services for 17 years now.

UFO adviser Olive Yana said she will confer with their president Bong Malasarte to discuss Molina’s proposal.

Yana said their organization is always willing to provide services to the Filipino community.

UFO has also initiated a signature campaign for the retention of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan.

Yana, who is also affiliated with the Lions Club International, said the Lions can also assist in the free health screening program.

Marivic Callejo of the CNMI Pharmacists Association said whether there’s a consulate or not it’s a necessity to continue providing free health services to the Filipino community.

"We just need to help one another," he said, referring to the medical supplies that will be used in the program.

Molina said they may hold the quarterly program at the Filipino Community pavilion in Susupe.

But Ruel Balboa, Hardt Eye clinic optical technician, said what they need is a secured room to accommodate clients for vision and intraocular pressure examinations.

He said they, too, have no problem continuing the program even if the consulate shuts down.

Molina said he knows "there are many good private individuals and companies willing to help us."

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