Public Health, GMA Will Partner to Protect From Zika During FestPac


 Public Health Director James Gillan and GMA President Dr. Tom Shieh discuss the possibility of doctors and nurses volunteering during FestPac this summer. 

Guam – Department of Public Health Director James Gillan wants to clarify his position regarding physician involvement in preparation for FestPac and concerns over a possible zika outbreak. GIllan says he absolutely supports and welcomes any help he can get.


It was all one big misunderstanding about the involvement of the Guam Medical Association for the FestPac activities this summer that will draw over 13,000 visitors to the island, some from zika-endemic countries.

A meeting was held yesterday at Adelup for a FestPac organizational committee that covered many aspects for planning of FestPac, including preparation for a potential zika contamination on Guam. GMA President Dr. Tom Shieh was initially invited, but later did not attend. 

“I invited him forgetting that Rose Ramsey is the chairperson, she runs the whole show and I didn’t ask her,” explains Gillan. That meeting is not just for public health and not just for zika, it’s the whole group, every subcommittee every subgroup.”

“Thanks for clarifying what transpired yesterday. For me, this is my specialty, we take care of pregnant women. I’ve been on Guam for over 19 years. I’ve delivered over 8,000 babies,” Dr. Shieh says.

In addition, Gillan clarified his comment regarding a specialist that GMA plans to bring in to Guam to educate physicians about the link between zika and the unborn baby. The physician, maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Greigh Hirata from Hawaii, is double board-certified and heads many other organizations in Hawaii. Dr. Shieh emphasizes that his expertise is crucial to the Pacific region as he is the only maternal-fetal specialist accessible to the area.

“We’ve got a guy, well known, Dr. Greigh Hirata who absolutely is probably the best choice to have to come out here to provide the education and information for all of the physicians,” acknowledged Gillan.

But the bottom line, says Gillan, is that physician and healthcare involvement is instrumental for FestPac planning. Gillan says there is no question that DPHSS and GMA will work together to prepare for FestPac.

“I think we have to realize that we’re really running on probably at least three tracks,” 

The first, he says, involves logistics. Next is the environmental aspect, such as elimination of mosquito breeding sites and mosquito control

“And then of course the actual health service track. Are we gonna man all of the tents, staff all of the tents? Are we gonna have people at the residential sites, the schools where the delegation’s gonna be staying?”

Gillan and Shieh spoke about GMA physicians and nurses volunteering to man tents during FestPac as a first line of defense and treatment. Guam Memorial Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Chris Bieling says the hospital is prepared for any emergencies, but he emphasizes that a zika infections will likely not be diagnosed in an emergency room.

“Zika is not gonna generate acute emergency room visits because the illness is very mild in adults and many times even asymptomatic,” explains Dr. Bieling.

“It’s important to avoid panic,” he added.