Inos Expects To Lift CNMI Hospital’s Emergency Status In 2014

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Governor optimistic, confident about CHC’s improvements

By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, August 9, 2013) – With the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. (CHC) showing dramatic improvement in its revenue collections, among other critical areas of operation, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Eloy S. Inos anticipates lifting the emergency declaration by next fiscal year.

Inos told Variety Wednesday, "CHC has made a lot of improvement, especially in the area of revenue generation and collection."

Pending release of the critical review by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Inos said he sees the hospital coming out of the emergency declaration sometime in early fiscal year 2014.

"We will have to lift that," he said.

Inos recognized that the hospital was no longer as it was in previous years when it could not make payroll and owed a substantial amount to vendors.

"They are taking care of their immediate needs," the governor said.

Variety earlier reported that the hospital managed to stanch its financial bleeding and improved its collections.

In a previous Variety report, the hospital was reported making between $2 million to $2.2 million in monthly collections.

This was a significant improvement to its collections of $650,000 to $700,000 a month last year which were not even sufficient to cover its monthly payroll.

CHC’s monthly payroll is $1.3 million.

For Inos, "They are making a lot of progress. We’ll give it a chance. Hopefully it will come out of its predicament. I am confident that it will."

Since it became a public corporation in 2011, the hospital has struggled with a $5 million budget for its operations, a huge decrease from the previous year’s $38 million budget.

At the time of its financial woes, the hospital was assisted by the Marianas Public Land Trust which loaned money so it could continue to provide critical services.

But the hospital has improved since then.

Inos said there are people committed to bringing the hospital operations "up to par."

He added, "We still have the assistance of the U.S. Public Health Service."

Inos also recognized assistance from the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ technical assistance grants and capital improvement funds "to fix many of the deficiencies at the hospital."

The Governor is optimistic that the hospital will "finally get out of this situation."

"The only thing they need to do now is to institutionalize many of the improvements that they have made, hire the right people and gain some real stability," said Inos.

He also said CHC has been "doing a lot in filling the voids, crisis management if you will."

However, he recognized that the hospital is becoming more stable and moving forward with visible growth.

Notwithstanding the hospital’s limitations, Inos said the hospital has a plan to deal with those limitations.

He assured the community that, "We’ll try to improve the level of service to reduce the cost of medical referral and improve the services locally."

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