The purpose of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) Grant is to achieve a greater level of laboratory service, not just for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC), but for the CNMI as a whole. The CHCC main laboratory, which also serves as the reference laboratory for the Rota Health Clinic (RHC) and Tinian Health Clinic (THC), tests annually 1.25 million blood specimens, with an additional 200,000 specimens for infectious diseases. Because the current laboratories were built from what are now outdated building codes, circa 1986 construction, it is critical that CHCC both expands and modernizes its laboratory sites in order to meet current regulatory standards regarding laboratory design, operations and workflow practice, ensuring a safe working environment. The additional workspace and storage rooms of all three laboratories will help to increase the footprint, efficiency and capacity in performing diagnostic testing on the islands. This will also allow physicians to make timely diagnostic and clinical decisions. More importantly, the expansion will provide the needed laboratory space required to run specimens safely, limiting the possibility of cross contaminations. With the growing number of residents accessing CHCC for routine care, the CDS grant will help maintain vigilance with testing for infectious diseases such as the COVID-19, Zika, Ebola, and Chikungunya. The Additional space will allow laboratory personnel ample room to set up and test specimens through point of care and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular testing for instance. More workspace will allow for better placement, use and storage of other testing platforms such as the Cepheid GeneXpert Infinity 48, which was procured during the COVID-19 outbreak as a mechanism to testing both residents and the influx of tourists. The CHCC, a semi-autonomous government entity responsible for healthcare infrastr
ucture in the CNMI, will administer the funded renovation and modernization expansion project.