GRMC recognizes achievements of its pulmonary clinic

Photo shows, from left: Joanna Mercado, Medical Assistant; Jerean Blas, Medical Assistant; Dr. Michael Agustin, Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist; Daleina Lizama, Respiratory Therapist; and Robert Sales, Respiratory Therapist. (UOG photo)

In honor of World Lung Day this past Saturday and Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC) shares the accomplishments its Pulmonary Clinic has made in 2021.

GRMC’s Pulmonary Clinic has transformed into one of the most robust medical services in Guam. Dr. Michael Agustin, Director of Pulmonary, and Dr. Jose Gonzalez established the hospital’s Pulmonary Clinic in 2016. The Pulmonary Clinic cares for almost 1,200 established patients.

The clinic provides regular outpatient care and for those with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder), asthma, occupational lung disease, and lung cancer and now boasts several subspecialty services created over the past four years.

The Pulmonary Laboratory, which provides Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) services, has now expanded its services to perform Cardiopulmonary Exercise Tests (CPET) and Methacholine Challenge Tests. These are complex lung tests that are mostly done in tertiary medical centers. The CPET helps diagnose unexplained breathlessness and is used as a pre-operative tool for those undergoing chest surgeries. The Methacholine Challenge Test is to diagnose asthma.

In April 2017, GRMC established the Pleural Clinic to provide services for patients needing an indwelling pleural catheter.

This has provided care for numerous cancer patients requiring regular drainage of fluid from their lungs. Thoracic cancer diagnosis and staging have been done locally since 2017 with bronchoscopy and endobronchial ultrasound services were added in 2020. These are complemented by external biopsies with the aid of a CT scan. Patients with severe lung disease and those recovering from severe COVID have been enrolled in GRMC’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center, established in October 2020 as part of the Rehabilitation department.

Biologic agents to treat severe persistent asthma have been available in Guam with the first recipient of Benralizumab in 2020. The Bronchiectasis program was formed in 2020 to provide comprehensive treatment for bronchiectasis together with a dedicated respiratory therapist and GRMC Infectious Disease specialist, Dr. Michele Yamamoto.

For the past four years, the Pulmonary Clinic has advocated for lung cancer screening and partnered with Dr. Ricardo Eusebio of Island Surgical Center for several lobectomies to remove lung lesions. Lastly, the clinic has published several case reports in international medical journals discussing lung pathologies in Guam.

Dr. Agustin is joined by Pulmonologist and Intensivist Dr. Patrick Moon from Naval Hospital, both doctors are board-certified. The Pulmonary Lab is run by full-time Respiratory Therapists, Robert Sales and Daleina Lizama. Clinical logistics are overseen by Joanna Mercado and Jerean Blas with Specialty Clinic Manager Melliza Young. The Pulmonary
Rehabilitation Center is supervised by manager Ann Cruz and supported by Rehab personnel certified by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC).

The creation of this robust Pulmonary Program in Guam has earned Dr. Michael Agustin the designation of Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians (FCCP) in 2021 by the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST). Dr. Agustin will continue to expand GRMC’s Pulmonary Clinic services to provide the best and most comprehensive respiratory care in the region.

(UOG Release)