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Helmsley Charitable Trust Grants More Than $6.4M to Bring Life-Saving MRI Technology to Northern Mariana Islands

SAIPAN, July 8, 2024 – Residents of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) will gain access to life-saving diagnostic technology thanks to more than $6.4 million in grant funding from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust that will provide the islands’ first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

Helmsley’s grant will allow the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) to build an MRI suite at its hospital in Saipan and conduct more than 1,200 annual scans to detect a wide range of diseases and conditions. The grant will also fund portable X-ray and ultrasound equipment for the CHCC’s clinic on the island of Tinian.

“The doctors, nurses, and staff at the CHCC’s Saipan hospital provide the best care they can given their resources, which are limited,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “This state-of-the-art equipment will help these dedicated local healthcare providers save lives. Additionally, it will save the government millions of dollars spent each year to fly residents off the islands for crucial medical care.”

MRI machines allow clinicians to conduct noninvasive tests that produce detailed images of internal structures of the human body using magnetic and radio waves. The scans can help detect a wide range of diseases and conditions, including aneurysms, stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, brain injuries, and conditions of the eyes.

“The residents of the Northern Mariana Islands deserve local access to essential health services, and having an MRI on the island will mean hundreds of our patients will not have to fly thousands of miles for a service that most people in the United States can access in their communities,” said CHCC CEO Esther Muna. “We are immensely grateful for this generous support which will not only transform healthcare but also improve health outcomes to our island residents.”

The CHCC’s facility in Saipan is the only hospital in the CNMI, serving a population of 50,000.

“We appreciate this gift,” said Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Arnold I. Palacios. “This equipment has been badly needed and we have not been able to find the funding for it. Your donation could not have come at a better time. This will be very impactful to our community.

“The Helmsley Trust has our deepest gratitude for the act of kindness and generosity that will undoubtedly make a significant impact on our ability to provide essential care to those in need. We are truly grateful for your willingness to make a difference in the lives of others.”

The Northern Mariana Islands were identified by the U.S. as a key strategic asset in the South Pacific during World War II. But in the decades since the war’s end, islanders have not been granted the same access to quality healthcare provided to residents of the continental U.S., Panzirer said.

Helmsley’s funding comes from its Rural Healthcare Program, which has granted more than $700 million to help level the playing field for rural U.S. residents by giving patients access to the same top-notch equipment found in urban centers.

Last month, Helmsley announced $3.2 million in grants in American Samoa to provide similar equipment to Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center and American Samoa Community Health Centers.




About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $4.5 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $700 million to organizations and initiatives in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and two of the U.S. Pacific territories. For more information, visit helmsleytrust.org.


About the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation functions as an integrated healthcare system that brings together a wide scope of services including primary, outpatient, and inpatient care; ancillary services including laboratory, pharmacy, and physical therapy; population health services including public and environmental health; and mental and behavioral health services. Through this integration under a single organizational structure, the CHCC provides the majority of healthcare services in the CNMI.





Michelle Tsai, mtsai@helmsleytrust.org