GMH fears they could be sued if Joint Commission report is released

Guam Memorial Hospital (PNC file photo)

Guam – The Joint Commission report contains details that could expose Guam Memorial Hospital to litigation. That’s according to the hospital’s own legal counsel. This is the basis for withholding the highly coveted report from the public.

But oversight chair Sen. Dennis Rodriguez says if he gets his hands on the report, he will publicize portions of it that are releasable.

The Joint Commission report contains the results of a survey conducted last month that led to the agency’s decision to issue a preliminary denial of accreditation to GMH. Joint Commission accreditation is the highest level of accreditation a healthcare institution can receive and without it, health-related agencies would be at a disadvantage in the medical community.

Pressure has been mounting for GMH to release the report, especially as they seek a dedicated funding source from taxing the business industry—a measure that would surely have impacts on the community as a whole.

But the hospital’s administration has kept this report under a proverbial lock and key. Their reason? In a letter to Sen. Rodriguez, CEO Peter John Camacho, said, “The initial concern raised by our legal counsel on releasing the documents is that it could expose the hospital to future litigation.”

“The liability could be in increased losses of whatever reason, whatever nature to the hospital, to the government which will then mean increased costs,” Camacho said on News Talk K57’s Patti on the Radio.

Rodriguez is among those eager to see this report, along with Speaker BJ Cruz and now Sen. Frank Aguon Jr, who has asked Rodriguez to allow him a peek at the report it as well.

As a compromise, Camacho said GMH will agree to release the report to Sens. Rodriguez and Cruz but under strict confidence.

Following that agreement, however, Sen. Rodriguez wrote back to Sen. Aguon, saying he has every intention of releasing the Joint Commission report to the public, but will redact portions that are restricted by law.

“No need to huddle and work behind closed doors. We should just release it,” Rodriguez told Aguon.

Rodriguez was also on News Talk K57 today.

“I can guarantee you, and that’s my commitment, that I would release anything that is not protected by our FOIA or Sunshine law,” Rodriguez told host Patti Arroyo.

Camacho, who apparently had not been aware of the oversight chairman’s intentions to release the documents, was taken aback by Rodriguez’s announcement.

“The letter that our legal counsel provided to Senator Rodriguez–she was very clear: the contents of the report should not be disclosed publicly,” said Camacho.

The senator, who has maintained a close relationship with GMH as their oversight chairman and has been typically kept abreast of the hospital’s conditions, emphasizes that it will be a challenge to help GMH without reading the report.

“Their actions now of being very secretive of this report leads any reasonable person to think that, ‘Hey, what, is there something else there that maybe, that we haven’t seen or don’t know about?’ And so that’s a reasonable assumption some of them make,” added Rodriguez.

As of news time, Sen. Rodriguez still had not received the report from GMH.