Doctor shortage, recruitment at GMH tackled

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Dr. Annie Bordallo is leading the charge on modernizing the process and trying to retain the appropriate doctors to fill the needs.
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It’s no secret we have a serious supply and demand issue when it comes to physicians on Guam, with simply not enough doctors to fill the need.

That came up during a very frank discussion between executives from the Guam Memorial Hospital and lawmakers discussing controversial allegations that the hospital doesn’t have fair hiring procedures.

Recruiting and contracting physicians at GMH is an undertaking fraught with historical issues, including lack of process, data, and transparency. But the hospital is trying to modify contracts to implement a fair recruiting process moving forward.

Here are the major overlying issues:

1. The hospital has long been working on a contracting basis for community doctors. But as patient needs grow, more and more doctors need to be full-time hospital employees to service the 24/7 facility.

2. There are currently 86 contracted physicians who all have varying contract terms and pay structures, some of them even bill patients directly for treatment.

Dr. Annie Bordallo is leading the charge on modernizing the process and trying to retain the appropriate doctors to fill the needs. But even as she wades through dozens of contracts, equitable pay remains a consistent issue.

“And when I negotiate with different doctors from month to month, to month … the price changes. Because if they were applying to somewhere else and they got $5 an hour more or $100 an hour more … that’s irrelevant that I’m paying the guy that I hired two months ago a price,” Bordallo said.

Bordallo says she can’t just break physician contracts and take time to negotiate from scratch, because … the hospital still needs to operate.

GMH has ongoing open recruitment for qualified physicians.

“We’re always looking for doctors because the rotation of people retiring, people leaving, creates openings all the time,” Bordallo said.

Another major hiccup in the recruitment process is a lack of reliable data on the hospital’s true needs because they’re still working with paper records that are difficult to aggregate.

Officials say they’re combating this issue by expanding the Electronic Health Records systems and hope to have a well-networked structure by the end of this year.

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