Legislature confirms DPHSS Director Art San Agustin

Department of Public Health and Social Services Director Art San Agustin (file photo)

During the close of its regular session today, the 35th Guam Legislature confirmed the appointment of Arthur U. San Agustin as the Director of the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Senator Terlaje, Chair for the Committee on Health, stated, “I felt it was important to contemplate the gravity and responsibility of this position during this particular time when our island is facing a health pandemic and is struggling to control a virus that has taken many lives over the last 9 months, that has shut many businesses down and put more than 30,000 people out of work, that has kept many of us isolated and limited from spending precious in-person time with our family and close friends, and that has completely overwhelmed our health care system.”

She added that carrying out the burden of leading Guam out of this pandemic comes with the full unprecedented Health Emergency authority which also entails the management of millions of dollars of procurement and federal funds, and tremendous pressure from the administration, hospitals, health care companies, lawyers, doctors, business owners, the legislature and the entire community.

The Health Chair noted that the appointment by the legislature should come with the commitment to provide the department with needed resources, that DPHSS is not scapegoated when it is everyone’s responsibility to improve our situation, and that that the advisory groups and the private sector truly work with them to implement a clear exit strategy that has been communicated effectively to the public.

“I expect the Director to serve the people of Guam first and foremost… that he is direct and completely forthright with the community he serves, and to remove any impediment that keeps information from the public,” said the Senator.

Recognizing the many challenges presented to the new director, Senator Terlaje also outlined some of her expectations including advocacy on behalf of the people of Guam without political interference stating on the session floor, “I expect denunciation of scare tactics or the threatening of furloughs of Public Health staff in the middle of the biggest public health emergency our island has seen and I expect policy to be driven by data and by an unwavering allegiance to saving lives.”

San Agustin declared his willingness to take on the leadership responsibilities over the Department and his intentions to work towards the improvement of the well-being of the island during his confirmation hearing. San Agustin has dedicated his career to serving those in need, to Public Health, often called upon to serve as Acting Director during his long tenure with the agency and 32 years of government service.

(Senator Therese Terlaje News Release)