AFTER 12 days of being “homeless,” the Kagman Community Health Center returned to its building on Saturday.
KCHC chief executive officer Vince Castro said they will resume providing health services at the facility today, Monday, May 14.
At 9 a.m. on Saturday, CHCC-Public Health Emergency Preparedness director Warren Villagomez turned over the keys to the building to Castro.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres and KCHC board chair Velma Palacios on Friday at 9 p.m. It allows the KCHC to operate on the premises.
“It went through the right process,” the governor said. The Department of Public Lands designated the property to the governor’s office which then signed an MOU with KCHC.
In an interview, Castro said the MOU gave them the “license to use the premises.”
He added, “Right now, the government is not charging us [rent], but we are looking at that option in the future.”
When the partnership between the KCHC and CHCC ended on April 30, 2018, CHCC secured the premises and changed the locks, forcing the health center to operate at the Santa Soledad parish church also in Kagman.
According to Castro, they were ready to sign a lease agreement somewhere else, but “the KCHC board, the leadership and the community want us here.”
He said KCHC may be occupying a one-hectare piece of government property but “it is not free.”
“There are rules that we have to follow,” KCHC board member Matt Gregory said, adding that one of them is maintaining the building and the yard. “There are a lot of expenses involved in doing that.”
Maintenance — lawn service, termite service, and other incidentals — will cost KCHC $1,500 a month, Castro said.
“The governor’s main priority is that services are not disrupted. We need to keep the people healthy,” he added.
On Monday, Castro said the clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We have a cellphone that we are using right now. We will get our phones installed sometime next week. Ninety percent of our services will be back. Over there at Santa Soledad, we only provided 40 percent of our services,” he said.
IT&E customer service manager Janice Tenorio, who was at the health center on Saturday, said IT&E will start processing the transfer of telephone lines and internet connection to the account of KCHC Inc.
Palacios thanked the governor for allowing them to use the premises.
“We also thank the community for the outpouring of support we received. The community values this place and this is where they go. We thank you for helping us in this whole process. We will continue our mission — to provide healthcare to the CNMI,” she said.
Palacios reiterated KCHC’s intention to work with CHCC.
“We need CHCC. We have always said that. We want to continue the partnership. Everybody goes to CHCC — we need them to take care of our patients,” she added.
Governor Torres and Senate President Arnold I. Palacios were relieved that the Kagman Community Health Center is now open again to provide healthcare services to the people of the commonwealth, saying the clinic’s services were vital and it should not have been shut down in the first place.
The governor said the Department of Public Lands revoked the land designation to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. before re-designating the property to the Office of the Governor.
The governor then entered into a license agreement with KCHC so it can again operate at the facility.
“This morning, I was pleased to announce that the Kagman Community Health Center has reopened after my office officially transferred the land license to KCHC,” Torres said on Saturday. “This would not have been possible without the support and coordination of our Department of Public Lands, the attorney general, the KCHC board, and CHCC. I sincerely thank them for working with my office and allowing us to finally move forward.
“But I want to especially thank the people of Kagman and the KCHC employees for their patience and expressing their concerns. This has been a frustrating couple of weeks, and it should have never gotten to the point where this clinic had to shut down vital healthcare services for our people. We’re looking forward to KCHC receiving patients again as early as Monday. We will continue to work together so that this clinic can eventually expand its great services to other parts of Saipan and to Tinian and Rota.”
The governor said he is relieved that everything is back to normal and the people can again receive the care they deserve.
He said he had been working on the issue for a couple of weeks and asked the AG to review it even before he, the governor, left to the states for a couple of engagements.
“There were a lot of disagreements and differences, but I am glad that we’ve ironed out the differences and now we are moving forward by transferring the right to the land to the Kagman health center. At any rate, we should not have closed the clinic. We could have signed a document transferring the liability to the Kagman center. But never mind, that is already in the past and we are now moving forward. I have confidence that the Kagman center will continue to provide quality healthcare to the people and the same services to the north also in Tanapag and San Roque and in the south in Koblerville and San Antonio as well as on Tinian and Rota. That’s their goal and I support their goals and mission as these will benefit the community,” the governor said.
The Legislature, he added, was also instrumental in resolving the issue after it conducted an oversight hearing last week.
Senate President Palacios said he is glad that the matter is now resolved, and the people of Kagman and other members of the community will no longer be deprived of the healthcare services that they deserve.
“We don’t want to dwell in the past, but we will make sure that it won’t happen again. We will make sure that the people will not be deprived of healthcare services again,” Palacios said.
KCHC board chair Velma Palacios said they did not stop providing services to the people even when the facility was closed for 12 days, adding that they moved to the Santa Soledad Parish Church where they were able to continue providing limited services.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/104369-chcc-turns-over-kagman-facility-to-kchc