Bill that prioritizes GMH nurse pay increase to be heard February 24

Nurses may soon get a much-deserved pay increase. (PNC file photo)

Bill No. 42-36, introduced last month by Speaker Therese Terlaje and co-sponsored by Senator Joe San Agustin, will be heard publicly on February 24, 2021, at 2 pm at the Guam Congress Building by the Committee on Appropriations.

Guam Memorial Hospital Authority (GMHA) has faced perennial nursing shortages for decades which have impacted the hospital’s ability to maximize bed capacity in its ICU, Emergency, and Clinical Areas.

Each year GMHA loses nurses due to transfer to off-island and on-island public or private entities or retirement, and is forced to recruit at higher costs from off-island. In 2019, the GMHA Board of Trustees implemented a 16% differential pay for all nurses and specialty pay as part of overall nurse recruitment and retention strategy. Unlike other nurse pay bills, this Bill 42-36 fully funds an increase in GMH nurse differential pay to 22% in order for GMH to better compete with nursing salaries on and off-island .

Bill No. 42-36 (COR) would redirect to GMHA a portion of the GRMC Annual Community Contribution mandated by the GRMC Qualifying Certificate (QC) for the sole purpose of increasing the nursing differential pay at Guam Memorial Hospital Authority to adequately recruit and retain nursing staff at Guam’s only public hospital.

The Annual Community Contribution was recommended in §3.12.02 of QC No. 252 to be allocated to health care (priority to Guam Memorial Hospital and Department of Public Health and Social Services), Medicaid matching, MIP payments; public safety; economic development with a priority on the promotion of the medical industry and small business; higher education, and cultural preservation.

“We can immediately improve patient care at GMH by retaining enough nurses for all of the available beds in the ER, ICU and critical care units. An immediate, fully-funded increase in nurse pay for our local nurses at GMH is an ideal retention tool and ideal healthcare use of over $1.2 M from QC contributions for the next 15 years while we build a new hospital, ” stated Speaker Terlaje.