GMH requests extension for DoD medical staff; FEMA to pay for 75% of new traveling nurses

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Guam Memorial Hospital
Guam Memorial Hospital (PNC file photo)

Guam Memorial Hospital is requesting an extension for the 22 Department of Defense active-duty medical staffers on island that are supporting GMH’s  COVID care operations.

The hospital just received an incoming 35 traveling nurses this week but until those nurses are completely ready to get to work GMH is asking for the active-duty staff approved through FEMA to stay a little longer.

Charles Esteves, Office of Civil Defense administrator, said: “They cannot fully execute their duties unless they complete whatever training is required on GMH’s systems, their policies and procedures. There’s still the credentialing piece from the Public Health side so I think that’s one of the factors that they’re working to justify the extension of the DoD medical personnel.”

Esteves said OCD is facilitating the request with FEMA.

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The initial request for the active-duty nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists was for 30 days and that’s due to expire next week.

Esteves says initially it was a stop-gap measure until the island could secure a contract with for more long-term help and just recently, GMH brought in the traveling nurses through a stateside company at a maximum price tag of $145 per hour, per nurse.

This cost covers not just the nurses’ salaries, but also the administrative fees to the placement agency, travel, lodging and other needs for the RNs.

Until these newly-arrived nurses are fully oriented and ready to get to work at GMH, Esteves says they’re submitting the necessary data for FEMA to review and determine if there’s a true need on Guam for the 22 DoD staff, or some portion of them, to stay and help out.

“A lot of it is data-based, it’s truly analyzing what our actual shortfalls are,” Esteves said.

The cost for these active duty personnel is on a cost-sharing basis with FEMA, with Guam required to pay 25% of the total and that won’t be calculated until the mission is completed.

Lillian Perez-Posadas, the GMH administrator, says the feds also agreed to cost-share the price of the newly arrived traveling nurses as well, meaning Guam will again only be paying 25 percent of the total.

Esteves says with GovGuam increasing staffing capacity, they also need to ensure the physical equipment is here to support them. On Friday, GovGuam already received 150 “fast beds” for GMH.

“These are actually emergency, they’re really medical beds, with castors and side rails. They come with the mattresses as well. If you’re going to increase bed capacity, then you probably need the physical beds as well. That’s something that just arrived today. It took probably around a month or two to procure and get it out here,” Esteves said.

The fast beds cost $950 each for a total of $142,500.

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Mai Habib
Mai Habib is a radio and television broadcaster and journalist originally from Toronto, Canada. She worked at CTV News and CFRA in Canada for over 5-years, where she was a reporter, anchor and show host. After a brief stop in Canadian politics and the non-profit world, she's happy to be back at the news desk on Guam. Mai is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program and completed her Master's in International Affairs and Public Policy at Carleton University. She is excited to be reporting on Guam's current affairs, legislature and other topical issues.