GMH denied Joint Commission accreditation same day sales tax is repealed

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Guam Memorial Hospital (PNC file photo)

Guam – A heavy blow for the Guam Memorial Hospital, receiving dismal news that the Joint Commission has denied them accreditation. The denial applies to both the hospital’s Tamuning facility and the Skilled Nursing Unit.

The denial comes six months after it was threatened with a preliminary denial of accreditation. Apparently, GMH’s corrective action plan was not convincing enough for the Joint Commission to give the hospital another chance.

GMH received the notice from the Joint Commission on July 16 that the Final Review and Appeal Committee concluded a decision to deny accreditation following two surveys: one from August last year and another from January of this year.

Although not entirely surprising, the denial borders on an unexpected outcome. Following the revelation in late January that GMH had received a preliminary denial by the Joint Commission, the GMH administration continued to assure the public that it was confident it would be able to maintain accreditation.

The Joint Commission’s threats back in January started a media campaign of cascading messages blaming the hospital’s shortfalls on a lack of funding, even though most of the citations in the Joint Commission report focused on leadership issues.

The January preliminary denial also came at a time when the hospital’s debt stood at just under $10 million–compared to two years earlier when it was approaching $30 million. In 2016, at $30 million in the red, GMH was still able to retain accreditation.

How did that happen?

GMH CEO Peter John Camacho, in 2016, factored in a $45 million cash infusion the hospital was depending on through bond borrowing, presuming this lump sum helped to secure its Joint Commission accreditation.

This year it’s remarkably different. There is no $45 million bond to bail out the hospital. The one source of funding they were banking on—a sales tax—has been eviscerated. Coincidentally, the Joint Commission’s final denial comes the same day lawmakers voted to repeal a sales tax set for October 1.

The 2 percent sales tax would have earmarked .75 percent to GMH as a dedicated funding source.

Then there’s the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which threatened to pull the public hospital’s provider agreement come October 3 if it fails to correct the litany of citations in a report issued last month. Without a provider agreement, GMH will lose a $30 million annual subsidy. Without Joint Commission accreditation and a CMS certification, this will undoubtedly result in the hospital’s annihilation.