OB/GYN Shortage Linked to High Infant Mortality Rate

Dr. Hoa Nguyen, American Medical Center Owner (Photo courtesy: AMC)

OB/GYN Shortage: Growing Concern

The shortage of specialty doctors and practitioners on the island is a growing concern.

With only 7 Obstetrician-Gynecology Specialists on the island, Dr. Hoa Nguyen of the American Medical Clinic says the island is in deep trouble.

Nguyen is hoping to unify the Government and healthcare clinics island-wide, both public and private practice, to prevent risky prenatal care due to the shortage.

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A Medical Emergency

The island faces a shortage of Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialists – which American Medical Clinic’s Dr. Hoa Nguyen deems an emergency.

Dr. Hoa Nguyen, American Medical Clinic Owner (photo courtesy: AMC)

The lack of OBGYNs has even posed a great concern to some members of the public. 

One concerned husband said that his wife has waited for a year and is still waiting to see a gynecologist. Another woman shared that she has been trying to see a specialist for her post-menopausal bleeding, fearing that it’s cancer, but has been turned away by the island’s specialists because of their unrelenting demand.

Currently, there are a total of 7 OBGYNs in Guam. 4 of those specialists are part-time, leaving only 3 full-time specialists.

“So even if we lose one of them,” Dr. Nguyen said. “We are really in trouble.”

Dr. Nguyen came on Newstalk K57 with Patti Arroyo and shared that the island has been struggling with this shortage for the past 6 months to a year.

In a media release from AMC, Dr. Nguyen says:

“As a result of this ongoing and worsening shortage, pregnant women are coming to their primary care providers for help, as they are unable to get appointments with an OB.”

“89% of the time they will say no because their plates are full,” Nguyen shared.

Consequently, this poses a very high risk of deliveries for late prenatal care – as specialists more often see patients in the late stages of pregnancy.

Links to High Infant Mortality Rate

Dr. Nguyen attributed the shortage to several reasons. One of them being that there is an OB shortage nationwide. Also, because OBs are a unique specialty, it is very expensive to employ doctors in clinics.

“You have to plan to go off the island,” Nguyen said. “Because there is no one on the island that will accept you.

Dr. Nguyen says that the lack of prenatal care contributes to Guam’s high infant mortality rate, among other factors.

Guam leads the nation in infant mortality rate.

Furthermore, Nguyen expressed:

“The care needs to be there.”

Nguyen suggests that the Government intensify funding to aggressively recruit and staff specialists to all healthcare facilities island-wide to mitigate the shortage.

Reach reporter Devin Eligio: devin@spbguam.com

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Devin Duque Eligio is a junior reporter and a young anchor. He joined the PNC News Team in the twilight of January 2022 as a reporter and hopped on the anchor desk in early March. While he's practically an infant to journalism, he looks forward to learning more from the news industry. He's an avid reader, saxophone player, and a Libra. He's 6'2 (not important) and has a rich, chocolatey voice (not important either.) Devin is not assigned to a specific beat, but gets a kick out of covering infrastructure, congress, and crime.