GMH plan to fix problems still includes sales tax senators want to repeal

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Guam – The answer to the Guam Memorial Hospital’s lengthy list of problems appears to be predicated on a 2 percent sales tax—a sales tax that lawmakers are dead set on repealing and a sales tax that GMH presented to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as something they’re counting on to happen.

After heightened pressure to release the controversial CMS report amid concerns of hospital mismanagement, GMH CEO PeterJohn Camacho finally caved and surrendered the report to the Legislature over the weekend.

Today, the hospital administrator invited media to discuss the contents of the 142-page report he submitted to the CMS.

Some of the findings by CMS include improper credentialing methods of physicians, risk management assessment not thoroughly executed, and a case involving a patient who required dialysis as a result of a medication error. That particular case involved a radiology technician administering IV contrast by mistake and then failing to report the sentinel event to a nursing supervisor.

“Other staff involved in the care of the patient assumed that the staff member who made the error would submit the occurrence report and that is actually the process within the hospital but unfortunately that didn’t happen. We’ve made some changes that would address that and the primary one is that we are requiring all of our staff to report,” said Camacho.

Camacho outlined several other points in their corrective action plan. He and other administrators once again reiterated the need for more funding and that need was highlighted in the corrective action plan but only appeared in one section of the 142-page report—in regards to the proper maintenance of the facility, including a 40-year old electrical panel that could result in a mass evacuation if it and other backup safety measures ever failed the hospital.

To address this and other critical needs, GMH offered up a dedicated funding source by way of a 2 percent sales tax set to take effect on October 1 with the first sign of revenue collections to begin in November.

What GMH didn’t tell CMS, however, is that this sales tax may not happen as senators are dead set on repealing this tax before it can even begin.

PNC: “You mentioned that you are confident in the corrective action plan that you submitted to CMS. Part of it you mention a 2 percent sales tax that you’re counting on with the legislature now considering a repeal of that sales tax. Does that factor into your confidence level for the corrective action plan?”

“As I had spoken, discussed with Sen. Morrison when at the, one of the hearings, he was saying that it’s likely going to be repealed and even in the previous discussion there had been some talking about looking at a different way of funding the dedicated assistance that we need,” noted Camacho.

PNC: “Have you expressed to CMS the political climate, the repeal, the pharmaceutical fund, is that, are they aware of any of these?”

“You know what, I’m sure they are because they keep close tabs on all of the hospitals and institutions that they certify and so I’m sure they’re aware of it,” answered Camacho.

While the citations in the report may seem egregious enough, believe it or not, there was actually time when things were worse—at least for one department. Nursing Administrator Zennia Pecina came on board in 2015.

PNC: “You mentioned that when you first came on board and you reviewed the 2011 CMS report, the citations under the nursing department were much heavier at the time?

“Yes.”

PNC: “More so than the citations in the nursing department now?”

“Yes, I would say 80 percent more. It was huge, it was scary. I was like, how are we going to address all the citations back in 2011. However, the nursing department was working on it already and so they’ve corrected many, many, many of the issues that they had,” said Pecina.

You can read the corrective action plan here and here.