Ebeye hospital short staffed

Lerooj Kitlang Kabua Memorial Hospital on Ebeye is experiencing a serious doctor shortage, compounded by challenges to hire off-island staff due to Covid entry restrictions. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Ebeye hospital has only seven doctors on staff, following departure of several doctors after they recently finished their contracts with the Ministry of Health and Human Services.

“We have serious issues on Ebeye now because we have had some doctors finish their contracts and go home, so there are only seven doctors on Ebeye now,” Health secretary Jack Niedenthal told the Journal earlier this month. “I know they are struggling.”  
He was on Ebeye last week to meet with staff and look at various issues the hospital is facing, including the shortage of doctors.

“While we have sworn in seven Marshallese doctors over the past three years they are not enough to fill all the positions we have in our hospitals,” Jack said. “The problem we have now is hiring doctors from the outside because the Philippines, for example, is not allowing their medical workers to leave because they are still battling Covid-19.
 
On top of the recruiting challenges, the RMI has its own issues with hiring off island workers. The RMI is saddled with a “horrifically slow and cumbersome employment process,” he said, pointing out that this “stems from both PSC and our own HR, and it is not because people are not good workers, it is because the requirements for hiring foreign nationals involves numerous steps that are difficult even in times of normalcy.”

The paperwork involved with immigration and passport renewals for foreigners in our medical workforce in the time of this pandemic where people can’t travel to their home countries is very difficult, and “even though we have had great cooperation from our Immigration Division here in the RMI, it really frustrates all of us, especially people like me who hold leadership positions,” he said.

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