GOVERNOR Ralph Torres said he has informed the U.S. Congress about the nursing shortage at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
He said the CNMI government, for its part, will also step up its efforts to hire more local or U.S.-citizen nurses.
CHCC currently pays its nurses $23,000 to $33,000 a year while the median annual salary in the U.S. is over $68,000.
In April, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources asked Torres about CNMI efforts to attract qualified U.S. nurses.
He said CHCC is awaiting the approval of the Attorney General’s Office for an agreement with Vero Nursing, which specializes in the recruitment of traveling nurses.
The governor said CHCC is planning to hire six traveling nurses to address the problem of the July capped-out CW nurses and the shortage at the hospital.
He added that CHCC also has an agreement with Fernandina College in Florida to use the Saipan hospital as the clinical training site for that college’s nursing students.
Moreover, he said CHCC is seeking the help of the National Health Service Corps to provide incentives for U.S. qualified nurses to work at the islands’ only hospital.
In a separate interview, CHCC board member Leticia Reyes said she will propose the revival of the nursing-assistantship program to encourage high school students to take courses in the medical field.
“We need to reconnect CHCC, Northern Marianas College-Area Health Education Center, the Workforce Investment Agency and the Public School System to again implement the program. I am hoping it will work out,” she added.
The program was originally for Saipan Southern High School students who wanted to be nurses. It was first launched in 2009, and Reyes served as its coordinator and instructor.
Reyes also believes that increasing the salaries of CHCC nurses will help the hospital recruit and retain more local and other U.S. nurses.
“The salaries have to be more attractive to applicants,” she added.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/97277-torres-nmi-will-step-up-efforts-to-hire-more-us-nurses