Bipartisan bill proposes pay hike for nurses

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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. (PNC file photo)

Nurses will see an increase of 15% of their base salaries at the beginning of this fiscal year, if a new measure introduced by Senator Mary Camacho Torres, Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, and Senator Amanda L. Shelton becomes law.

Bill 61-36 (LS) serves as an interim measure until the nurse wage study mandated by Public Law 35-125 is completed. Under that law, also authored by Senator Torres, the Department of Administration must update the compensation of all positions covered under the Nurse Pay Plan.

The plan covers 38 different positions, including Licensed Practical Nurses, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Community Health and Nursing Services, hospital administrators and supervisors, and school health counselors.

While the DOA has committed to carrying out the study as quickly as possible, Torres, Barnes, and Shelton recognize that many of Guam’s front liners have waited for too long.

“This bill says that, like tax refunds, nurse pay is something we fund first, regardless of cost,” said Senator Torres. “Approving this increase before we deliberate on a fiscal year budget ensures we incorporate that cost—proving our nurses are the priority we say they are.”

“My family taught me Inafa’Maolek: when my community is in need, we step up. Our nurses did just that throughout COVID-19, this is one way to do right by them and provide what they rightfully deserve,” said Vice Speaker Muña Barnes.

“As we continue to fight against this invisible virus, there’s no better time to affirm our responsibility to our nurses on the front lines who have devoted their lives to keep us safe,” said Senator Amanda L. Shelton.

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