GMH Management Fired, New Team Takes Charge Friday

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Guam – Governor Eddie Baza Calvo Thursday invoked his Organic authority over the Guam Memorial Hospital and fired the GMH board and management.

At 8 am Friday, a new management team will take over the hospital and begin changing its operations. The new team includes:

–       Rey M. Vega, Interim Hospital Administrator

–       Siva Karuppan, Chief Financial Officer

–       Dr. Larry Lizama, Medical Director

The new members of the Board of Trustees are:

–       Lee Webber

–       Frances Mantanona

–       Dr. Ricardo Terlaje

–       Albert Gurusamy

–       Dr. Edna Santos

The Governor recorded a special address to the people of Guam about these changes.  It is reprinted below.

Listen to Governor Calvo’s Emergency Address

“Good evening, my fellow Guamanians,

Thank you for your time tonight as I inform you of some hard decisions I had to make today.

This week, I signed a settlement to give the family of a five-year-old boy money to replace the leg that was amputated from him. His leg was amputated allegedly because of negligence on the part of our hospital. No amount of money will ever make it okay for a child  to live the rest of his life without his leg. He wasn’t born with this disability. It wasn’t God-given. It was taken from him.

Our community celebrated GMH accreditation only last year. We commended the doctors and the nurses for their hard efforts. We were told that things were getting better. We were told that accreditation meant that patients would be cared for. We were told that leaders were working together to support GMH. None of that was true. All the while, the GMH administration knew about the major problems right underneath the surface. Information started coming out late last year that things weren’t as rosy as some were making it out to be. There were still long lines. Patients were roaming the halls waiting for rooms. They were running out of medicine – what kind of hospital runs out of medicine? This is not to mention the women in labor who didn’t have epidurals to ease their pain. Or the hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts and millions in accounts receivable just bleeding the hospital dry.

Even with all these problems that started surfacing in December, I committed to work with the hospital leadership. They assured me the problems could be solved. They said it wasn’t that bad, and that all they needed was money. Money isn’t the answer to everything. You need good management that is committed to the doctors and nurses and that has compassion for the patients. You need people who understand finances. You need professionals who see people, and not numbers waiting in a line. What was happening at GMH obviously wasn’t working. And we were straightforward with the management there from the start. We expected changes, and they resisted change every step of the way. Now, our community is left to pick up the pieces, and a five-year-old boy will live the rest of his life without a leg.

As a father, it angers me so deeply that the problems at the hospital are hurting children. How many others have been hurt? How many may have died? All these doubts end now. Effective immediately, I am invoking my Organic authority over the hospital. I have relieved the board of trustees of their duties, and I want to thank them for their commitment to GMH. I have also removed the top-level hospital management team. A new board now is in place, pending legislative confirmation. In the meantime, I have appointed an interim management team of professionals to begin fixing GMH.

I want the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital to know that you have our full and undivided support. We won’t leave you without resources and direction to fail. We are sending in a solid finance team to plug the cash leaks. We will create accountability for action and inaction – people need to be held accountable. We will ensure you have the supplies and equipment you need to save lives. We will not tolerate negligence, nor will we accept anything short of excellence.

In short order, I am demanding that the atmosphere of accountability and patient care change completely at GMH. If a parent ever has to take his child to the hospital, there’d better be caring doctor waiting to see her, and not the other way around. There will be enough medicine to treat her. The medical equipment to make her better will be working. She’ll get all the care she needs, and all the attention she deserves. This is not a novel concept. This is what we should all expect from our only civilian hospital.

Thank you for your time, and good night.”