8 Jul 2010

Emergency declaration gives time to solve CNMI nursing crisis

3:01 pm on 8 July 2010

The Governor's office in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands says a state of emergency will buy time to resolve the nursing crisis.

The Governor Benigno Fitial declared a state of emergency after the Department of Labour banned the Saipan Employment Agency from hiring non-resident nurses after it failed to meet the nurses' payroll obligations.

The press secretary Angel Demapan says the decision posed a potential threat to medical services as both the employment agency and Rota and Tinian health centres were left unable to hire foreign staff.

"The purpose of the state of emergency is to go back to square one because the Governor believed that things need to go to status quo for now so that we don't disrupt the medical services. And while things are at status quo for now, it would give us ample time to find an absolute resolution to this problem."

Angel Demapan says some of the options are to review the statute and amendments to it, and to review the relationship between the employment agency and the government.