The mass resignation of 40 doctors and nurses at Yap State Hospital, has prompted Yap State Governor Jesse Salalu to declare a state of emergency.
“There is no sufficient pool of qualified nurses and doctors available on island for immediate recruitment to help prevent or minimise disruptions to the operation and services of the hospital,” Salalu said in his emergency declaration.
The emergency status authorises the Department of Health Services (DHS) to work with Waab Community Health Center to allow the sharing and realignment of human resources to the main hospital.
DHS will also investigate the possibility of rehiring local retired medical professionals on a temporary basis.
“Due to the sudden departure of staff, the Department of Health Services is now in need of finding and recruiting qualified nurses and doctors to fill vacancies, so as to minimise disruptions to its operations and services,” states the emergency declaration.
Led by Dr James Yaingeluo, the doctors and nurses handed in their resignations on 29 March after Salalu allegedly declined to hear their grievances.
When Salalu failed to appear at a meeting requested by the medical staff, a representative from the Office of the Attorney General and a cabinet member refused to discuss the matter with them.
Among the grievances are persistently severe understaffing, low salaries resulting in the inability to attract and keep qualified professionals, working without contracts, and the Yap State Legislature’s refusal to release JEMCO-approved Office of Insular Affairs grant funds for wage increases.
Many of the unresolved issues that date back to 2019 have been exacerbated during the pandemic.
Yap is reported to have the lowest pay rates in FSM’s health care sector and has difficulty recruiting qualified doctors and nurses due to the higher compensation offered by other health care institutions in the region. This is especially true since the onset of the pandemic when health care professionals began receiving significantly higher offers from employers.