GMH launches oxygen home loaner and outpatient hemodialysis programs

Oxygen tanks for use under GMH's Oxygen Home Loaner Program. (GMH photo)

The Guam Memorial Hospital Authority has launched the first-ever Oxygen Home Loaner Program.

Using money from the federal government’s Provider Relief Funds, the hospital purchased 18 home oxygen concentrators and 18 portable oxygen tanks.

The program is designed to support those COVID-patients who are admitted to GMHA and require supplemental oxygen, but are stable enough to recover at home.

“What makes me really proud is knowing that our GMHA team not only created the playbook COVID treatment and management, but that we’re making history in our community and stepping up to meet the needs of our patients, even creating out-of-the-box loaner programs just to get people home safely,” said Lillian Perez-Posadas, GMHA CEO.

People who qualify for the Oxygen Home Loaner Program are completely stable, they simply need the additional oxygen to reach the finish line of recovery from COVID-19. Oxygen concentrators have not been available on island for some time due to supply issues. The oxygen concentrators that have been available on Guam, are unaffordable for the average person, ranging between $3,000-$9,000 each and not covered by insurance.

As of Friday, GMHA has been able to successfully discharge 4 admitted COVID-patients with the additional oxygen. There is no charge to the patients for the O2 loaner program.

“We applaud our healthcare heroes for their tireless commitment during this pandemic, providing care and comfort most especially to those in isolation,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “As we continue to learn more about this deadly virus, we must apply all the interventions available to help our people get better faster while supporting the critical lifesaving mission of our hospital.”

“This took an incredible amount of collaboration between our clinical services and operations division. This is GMHA’s first effort going full-circle to serve our admitted patients that cannot avail of resources to return home safely. We do our best to rise to the occasion. GMHA is always in pursuit of delivering excellent, accessible healthcare,” said Dr. Joleen M. Aguon, Pulmonary & Critical Care Physician, COVID Medical Director, and Associate Administrator of Clinical Services.

Outpatient hemodialysis

In addition to the Oxygen Home Loaner Program, GMHA has once again started up an outpatient hemodialysis (HD) treatment center for COVID-positive patients. Although outpatient HD is not a service routinely offered at the hospital, GMHA obtained temporary approval to deliver this treatment, in order to meet the needs of our people. During this latest surge, we have so far supported 29 COVID-positive patients needing outpatient hemodialysis services.

“Our priority is of course our inpatients, since we are an acute care facility, however, we are stepping up and maximizing our staff and resources as best we can, to accommodate the needs of COVID patients who need dialysis, where the community clinics are limited in meeting the demands,” said Perez-Posadas.

“The outpatient hemodialysis is a temporary program. In fact, we only have permission to run this HD clinic/service until November 30. We are strongly encouraging the HD community clinics to increase their capacity to support the needs of our people. We know COVID is here to stay for some time, and there could be more waves; we will inevitably face the same circumstances again in the future,” she continued.

GMHA also offered outpatient HD service for COVID-positive patients last year as well, during earlier COVID-surges. Both the Oxygen Home Loaner Program and the outpatient hemodialysis are targeted towards sending stable COVID patients home to continue recovering, freeing up much-needed bed space at GMHA to treat very sick people in our community.