Diaspora Feature Story Health News

There is a gap between healthcare and ordinary folks in Saipan

By Lori Lyn Lirio

UCLA graduate Abigail Dimaano spent over 900 hours as an intern at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Dimaano is leaving for Los Angeles this week to pursue her education in healthcare. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

THERE is an existing gap between ordinary folks and healthcare in Saipan, according a Fil-Am intern of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

Abigail Dimaano made this observation during her internship at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC). She said her observation confirmed her desire to want to pursue either medicine or take physician assistance program in the future.

Dimaano explained that her love for the island and her concern for the people’s health motivated her to take an internship at the CHCC.

“I knew I always wanted to come back here because I grew up here. I knew that eventually I wanted to work here and specifically wanted to work in healthcare,” Dimaano said in an interview.

Dimaano, 22, received her degree in Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of California, Los Angles in 2017.

“After school, I came here. I started my internship at CHCC in Sept. 2017,” Dimaano said, adding she did over 900 hours of volunteer work for the hypertension project led by CHCC’s Corporate Quality and Performance Management or CQPM.

“I spend half of my time in the office – reviewing, summarizing and presenting the data to our team. Other half of the time was actually in the community conducting the blood pressure screening,” she said. They would go to stores like Joeten Supermarket or Twins Supermarket to set up table and screen people who would want to get their blood pressure.

“In between my undergrad and my further education, I was going to have a gap year. I wanted to spend my gap year here on Saipan because my parents are here, I grew up here. I knew that I wanted to work here in the future. I like Saipan and the community and I wanted to come back,” she said.

She said her internship at the CHCC was a good experience for her because she got the opportunity to get out in the community and interview people.

“Some of these people have never really seen a doctor or some of these are uninsured or have no status. To talk to people as sort of first line of healthcare that they see, it was really good to get involved and tell people where to get help and educate them about the blood pressure.”

“Being in school is different. It is interesting to be in school and learning these things through books. But it is more interesting to get a hands-on experience. So for me it is valuable to be out in the field, in the community,” she said.

“Coming back here is giving me a picture of where would I be working. It gave me the confirmation what I want to pursue and where I invest all my time and energy. I like working here and the community and I like medicine,” she said.
During her internship, Dimaano said she noticed a gap with the screening that they conduct and the clinic. Most often, she said the blood pressure and blood sugar screening was conducted either in public health or any community organization.

“They hand people these numbers that tell them their blood pressure or blood sugar but there would no coordination to the healthcare providers like doctors. There is really a gap between seeing people in the community and connecting them to a doctor which is the ultimate goal – to get unhealthy people to be seen by doctors and get them a regular care so they could treat their problem. That is one of the problems we address in our project.”

Dimaano is leaving for Los Angeles this week to pursue her education in healthcare.


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Lori Lyn Lirio
Lori Lyn C. Lirio is a veteran newshen having worked for the People's Journal Tonight for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications degree from the Lyceum of the Philippines University. She currently writes for the Marianas Variety, Saipan's number one community paper. .

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