Questions raised on proposed $1 billion healthcare complex

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Businessman Sedfrey Linsangan testifying against the healthcare center bill (PNC screen capture)

Some questions and concerns were raised during the public hearing Wednesday on Bill 121-36, which calls for the creation of a healthcare center on Guam.

Titled the “Twenty-First (21st) Century Healthcare Center of Excellence Construction Act of 2021,” the bill would allow for the construction of a healthcare campus that would include the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, the Department of Public Health and Social Services, as well as the Guam Behavioral and Wellness Center.

Businessman Sedfrey Linsangan testified against the bill, saying now is not the right time to spend millions of dollars on new buildings when the island’s economy has still not recovered.

He added that there are more pressing problems in need of federal dollars and GovGuam must not spend most of the upcoming windfall in just one project.

Linsangan also said that it’s better to spend a lesser amount repairing and upgrading the existing Guam Memorial Hospital rather than spending more money for a new hospital and healthcare center that would house three agencies.

Guam Economic Development Authority administrator Melanie Mendiola noted that the total cost for the whole healthcare center could reach almost $1 billion.

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“You’re talking about a total price tag of $950 million, not including escalation. So we see it adding up,” Mendiola said.

She added: “We do believe that there’s more information needed.”

For her part, Guam Memorial Hospital administrator and CEO Lillian Perez-Posadas said they want additional funding options included in the bill, not just revenues from GovGuam.

She said there are other financing options available such as federal funding from the Department of Interior and research grants not just from federal institutions but also from big corporations that give out grants.

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“Maybe if we can also work with them and be affiliated with them, that would bring some of that research activity, including the funding. At the same time, it can also build our people, our young people, young brilliant minds to be researchers and become scientists because we all see that science plays a really big role with health care,” Perez-Posadas said.

She also has an issue with the planned name for the healthcare complex as a “Center of Excellence.”

“One of the issues is that, you know, the title of this legislation, as a Center of Excellence. I just want to point out that we can’t declare ourselves as a center of excellence. We have to go through a certification or credentialing process for an audit or notarization to then designate us, and deem us, a center of excellence. I just kind of wanted to point that out … that to declare ourselves as a center of excellence is not on us. It has to come from an organization that will go through the process to determine whether we really are and will meet the criteria of being a center of excellence,” Perez-Posadas said.

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