Need to decompress GMH and build assisted living facilities discussed

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With the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases on island, the need to decompress the Guam Memorial Hospital from less urgent cases was raised during the homeless interagency committee meeting this morning.

With the island lacking assisted living care facilities, homeless, indigent, and elderly patients who only require ambulatory or outpatient care have nowhere to go but GMH at a time when hospital resources need to be prioritized for COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Margaret Hattori-Uchima, Guam Homeless Coalition representative, raised this concern during the meeting this morning. She said some patients are recurring patients who come back to the hospital for care.

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“However, the bigger problem is that Guam does not have assisted living facilities. We don’t have boarding care homes … we are familiar with Hawaii and California where there are many ambulatory care homes. In fact, some of the homeless people that are in GMH can walk but some of them have dementia and they need to be monitored and they can’t move out,” Hattori-Uchima said.

The doctor also said they are facilitating placement options for the less urgent care patients who fall under these categories.

Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio emphasized the urgency of setting up the assisted living care facilities and he also said that for those with secured placement options off-island, there is a program and a process to fly them out to the location. So this plan can be included in the decompression operations for GMH.

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Meanwhile, the interagency committee also reported updates to the occupancy numbers at the government homeless shelter. As of this week, there are 82 individuals at the Global Dorm in Maite.

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