State of the art healthcare center one step closer to reality

Legislature seal (PNC file photo)

Senator Joe S. San Agustin and Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes on Tuesday
introduced Bill 121-36 after meeting with GMH Administrator Lillian Posadas, DPHSS Director Art San Agustin, and GBHWC Director Therese Arriola.

The Twenty-First (21st) Century Healthcare Center of Excellence Construction Act of 2021 was introduced to allow for the construction of a Healthcare Campus on Guam, to be inclusive of the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, the Department of Public Health and Social Services, as well as the Guam Behavioral and Wellness Center. This proposal would allow the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) to enter into a contract with a private contractor to finance, design, construct and maintain a new 21st Century Healthcare Center of Excellence.

While GEDA is the entity authorized to enter into contracts and execute the administrative functions of this proposal, it would be the Administrator of GMH, the Director of DPHSS, and the Director of GBHWC to ensure that the specifications of the new proposed facility are able to accommodate the needs of their respective agencies.

As the Army Corps of Engineers have noted in their report, the current Guam Memorial
Hospital’s current infrastructure is in an overall state of failure due to age of more than 50 years, environmental exposure, lack of financial resources to support the pre-planned capital infrastructure replacements, ultimately putting the staff, patients, and visitors at risk.

Furthermore, the Guam Fire Department has also deemed that the DPHSS main facility in Mangilao is uninhabitable. Not only does this proposal provide a solution to two critical issues in our island’s healthcare facilitates, but it also solves a long-time issue at the Guam Memorial Hospital by ensuring that part of the contract includes a Medical Information System for all three healthcare facilitates that is compliant with federal mandates related to medical records and to foster compliance with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the requirements of the Joint Commission and generally accepted within the United States hospital industry.

Recently, the Guam Memorial Hospital was in jeopardy of losing its Medicare eligibility due to the lack of an electronic medical records system. While GMH has been successful in securing an extension through the COVID-19 Pandemic, the mechanism set forth in Bill 121-36 also addresses the concerns of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services after CMS threatened to strip the hospital’s Medicare eligibility.

“One thing we have learned through this COVID-19 Pandemic is that our Island’s Economic health is directly related to our healthcare capacity” stated Senator Joe S. San Agustin. “For years we have always neglected our responsibility to properly invest in our island’s healthcare infrastructure – now, with the commitment from the Governor, we have an opportunity to re-invest in the health, and public and behavioral welfare our People” concluded San Agustin.

“Over the last few months, I have been taking a Harvard course on Emerging Economies, focusing on developing healthcare capacity as a foundation of economic advancement; today along with Senator San Agustin, we are taking a step to do just that and make good to our People of Guam” stated Vice Speaker Muña Barnes. “The People of Guam entrusted their elected leaders to serve the best interest of our Island – investing in adequate healthcare facilities is something I hope we all can get behind” concluded Muña Barnes.

(Vice-Speaker Tina Muna Barnes Senator Joe S. San Agustin Release)