GMH finances worsen as CARES Act funding runs out

Guam Memorial Hospital (PNC file photo)

The financial plight of the Guam Memorial Hospital, the island’s only public hospital, continues to worsen as costs pile up and CARES Act funding from the federal government dries up.

According to GMH board treasurer Byron Evaristo, the hospital’s revenues have decreased while costs continue to increase.

“Our financials? We’ve had better, better months. Cash is definitely restricted. And it’s decreased tremendously from month to month,” Evaristo reported during the latest GMH board of trustees meeting.

He added that the federal CARES Act funding that the hospital has been getting is nearly depleted.

“It’s drying up, there are no more funds left. And we just got an email from the Bureau of Budget Management and Research that they may not even be able to provide us all the money that was allocated to us. So I sent an email back to Lester (Carlson), stating we have to do this because we’ve already reserved all that money to pay for the differential pay. He can’t take that money away from us because it’s already obligated,” Evaristo said.

In addition, Evaristo said GMH is still waiting for $3 million in reimbursements from the Department of Administration as well as approval from the federal government about a grant that GMH submitted.

“It’s really not looking that great right now in terms of cash and revenues coming in. So we’re looking to cut costs. We’re constantly looking at that,” Evaristo said.

Among the major cost items of the hospital is the expense incurred by traveling nurses, which the hospital wants to eventually phase out in the long run.

Another is the price of remdesivir, an anti-viral drug used for the treatment of COVID-19. Remdesivir is a very costly drug and the bills for this have been piling up too.

As for hospital revenues, Evaristo said collections are down as many patients with no insurance don’t pay up.

“The collection is the part that I need to work on. Also, we had a lot of patients in the past month. But when the census goes down, revenues will also go down as well. And our census has really been dropping considerably,” Evaristo said.

He added that GMH has already issued a Request for Proposal for consultants who can help analyze and break down the hospital’s Medicare costs.

“Hopefully, by the beginning of the new year, we can get started on the cost report,” Evaristo said.