Guam’s hospital woes are well-known. With recent talk of possibly building a new hospital, PNC caught up with Joann Camacho from the Guam Economic Development Authority for more details.
Camacho is the deputy administrator for GEDA. GEDA is the agency that’s taking the lead on efforts to improve Guam’s hospital situation.
Camacho said they’re currently awaiting a grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment. The grant would be used to fund a study to develop a Medical Center Action Plan. The study would help determine whether it’s more cost-effective to renovate GMH or build a new hospital.
A similar study was conducted in 2019 by the Army Corps of Engineers. That study concluded that it would be better to build a new hospital.
But Camacho says the new study is meant to address new factors that have emerged since the 2019 study.
One of those new factors is the recent approval of H-2B workers from the Philippines and how that could affect labor costs.
Recently, the governor said that she prefers Eagles Field in Mangilao for the site of a new hospital. But other options include Oka Point and the old Admiral Nimitz Golf Course in Radio Barrigada.
Camacho said funding for a new hospital, or for renovations to GMH, could come from a variety of sources.
Funding sources could include federal subsidies, private-public financing, and the leveraging of existing funds.
The government has a statutory borrowing capacity of $280 million, which Camacho says could be leveraged to secure grants or matching funds for construction.
Camacho says that even as the island continues to grapple with the pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of important..long-term projects like the hospital.
“I know it’s a high priority, but with everything that’s happening, of course, we’re focusing on the day to day issues of COVID and how to handle that and manage that. But yes, I’m personally committed in wanting to see a new hospital built, and the governor is too. So we’re working together to see how we can accelerate it, and make it happen much sooner than later,” Camacho said.
Camacho said she’s hoping a grant for the OEA study will be approved in the next couple of months.