CHCC to ask US Congress to reserve 250 CW permits for nurses, other health workers

COMMONWEALTH Healthcare Corporation board chair Lauri Ogumoro said they will ask the U.S. Congress to reserve 250 CW slots for nurses and ancillary staff needed by the CNMI’s only hospital.

“I have been informed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Honolulu District Director David Gulick that this would require a change in regulations. We need help from the U.S. Congress to change the regulations. From my perspective, we developed those regulations specifically for the commonwealth, so they could be changed, specifically to address these problems. That is our goal,” Ogumoro said in an interview on Thursday.

She emphasized the importance of having a full staff at the islands’ only hospital. “If you have an accident, God forbid, where are you going to go? We want to support these health workers because they support us too.”

She said CHCC recognizes the nurses and other health workers’ dedication to the hospital and the critical services they provide to the community.

In an earlier interview, CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said they will seek EB2 or other applicable U.S. visas for their 170 nurses and other healthcare staff members who are on CW-1 permits.

Early this month, 12 CHCC nurses left the island because of the CW cap. They could not avail themselves of the 240-day extension because of the absence of receipts from USCIS.

Ogumoro said the affected CW nurses have since received the receipts. “Unfortunately, a lot have already left. The ones that are here can remain until their CW renewal comes through. The whole CW process is crazy.”

She reiterated that applying for EB2 and other applicable U.S. visas for their nurses and other healthcare staff will cost a lot of money. “So we will go back to the Legislature and ask for their support.”

CHCC, she added, should be provided with adequate funds.

“I know that the hospital can have all the services people want so we can reduce referrals. I worked at the hospital when we still had a radiologist, we had an orthopedic surgeon and we had a nephrologist. We were doing well. That was the time when we had a lot of money. Those days are gone.”

CHCC has requested $90 million for fiscal year 2018 from the central government. The administration has recommended a $2.1 million subsidy.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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