GMH moving forward with plan to turn SNF into pandemic isolation facility

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The Skilled Nursing Facility in Barrigada (PNC file photo)

The Guam Memorial Hospital is moving forward with its plan to turn the Skilled Nursing Facility in Barrigada into a medical pandemic isolation facility after assurance that it will receive federal grant funding.

At the legislature’s oversight hearing for the hospital this week, GMH associate administrator William Kando reported that FEMA obligated $11.5 million out of the $15 million under its public assistance grant program for the project

Kando says they’re almost done with the design phase.

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“And the scope of work involves HVAC system upgrades, negative pressure, and medical capability upgrades. It includes a bed capacity of 54 beds, to include four ICU beds, two ICU step-down beds, four single certified isolation room beds, and 44 acute care beds,” Kando said.

He added that the facility will also include professional support service equipment including hemodialysis machines, possibly a CT scanner space, and other upgrades.

GMH Administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas says the SNF will still function as a facility to house skilled nursing unit residents who are in for long-term care but it could be activated as a pandemic facility if needed in the future.

“But in the event that we have another pandemic…another situation such as this COVID…we can then just turn on the switch once we complete the construction and the renovation…we can turn on the switch and move the patients, the SNU residents out of there and then make it into an isolation facility,” Perez-Posadas said.

The SNU was the island’s designated isolation facility during the first wave of COVID but some air conditioning issues made it unusable for some time.

Perez-Posadas says the HVAC system is part of the facility upgrade funded by the grant.

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