Respiratory Illnesses Impacting Among Guam’s Most Vulnerable— Children and Infants

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(Dr. Robert 'Bob' Leon Guerrero)

In October, five children ages four months and below presented to GRMC coding; one 3-month-old infant confirmed positive for RSV, another with bronchiolitis, and another 4-month-old suspected of having RSV,  According to Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bob Leon Guerrero. 

This alarming news follows the island’s prevalence of respiratory viruses, which Dr. Leon Guerrero said first hit the island in July and spiked in November—leaving Guam’s already overwhelmed healthcare system and healthcare workers to make the best with what they can. 

In an interview with NewsTalkK57’s Patti Arroyo, Leon Guerrero detailed how inundated Guam’s healthcare system became at one point: “Our hospital is a 14-bed pediatric ward, with two PICUs— it was so full that we ended up having to use the ED, or emergency room department as a secondary pediatric ward, secondary PICU, and as good as the nurses down there are, again, they’re not pediatric nurses, and so, we do the best that we can.” 

As PNC previously reported, Dr. Leon Guerrero highlighted that Guam did not experience flu season or RSV at the height of COVID—as individuals more frequently practiced safety measures like mask-wearing, social distancing, and thorough hand washing. 

Now that these precautions are lax and respiratory illnesses are dangerously impacting pediatrics, he says, Guam’s most vulnerable lives are at risk and urges the community to practice the 3 W’s. 

He stated, “This is my message for the past three months, and it’s getting really frustrating. So, my question to the people of Guam is: “How many kids have to expire or die before we listen to the message of wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing hands? People of Guam, please! I am tired of wearing a mask, I’m tired of washing my hands, but I think I’m a little bit more tired of seeing another child pass away because of a simple thing of wearing a mask, washing hands.” 

 Despite Guam not having readily available RSV vaccines, Leon Guerrero doubled down on known safety measures: wearing a mask, hand-washing, and social distancing help prevent the spread—and strongly advises that the community receive available COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots. 

 

Destiny Cruz, PNC News First. 

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Starting as the weather personality for the Pacific News Center in 2019, then as a reporter, Destiny Cruz is now PNC’s lead anchor, producer, writer, and TV host for two of Sorensen Media Group’s shows. Over three years at PNC, Destiny has covered issues impacting our island in areas including legislation and health, to name a few, in addition to highlighting the meaningful stories of Guam’s community in features and lifestyle. Corresponding with her professional growth, Destiny has acquired personal achievements that have contributed to her development as a dynamic woman: she is a proud graduate of the Guam Community College, earning her degree in liberal studies, a former Miss Guam (Miss World Guam 2017), and singer/songwriter.