Torres doubles down on effort to recruit more nurses for Guam

Senator Mary Camacho Torres (PNC file photo)

Making good on their commitment to the nursing community, Senator Mary Camacho Torres, Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, and Senator Amanda L. Shelton have introduced a measure to add Guam to the Nurse Licensure Compact Wednesday afternoon.

If enacted, Bill No. 13-36 (COR) would allow Guam to recruit from a pool of over 2 million nurses from 34 member states through multistate licensure.

In addition, the NLC would enable the immediate movement of nurses in the event of a natural disaster, or other emergency, without the need to wait for a declaration of emergency.

Membership would also integrate the island to a coordinated information system containing the licensure and disciplinary history of each nurse—streamlining a burdensome process many contract nurses faced while traveling to Guam during the pandemic.

“Like its last iteration, Bill 13 opens us up to a specialized nurse force, telehealth services, and a level of security in the vetting process that we presently do not have,” said Senator Torres. “It’s also a bill that many of our front liners have personally requested.”

Local nurses had overwhelmingly supported the bill last term. Testimony from the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, Guam Regional Medical City, Guam Board of Nurse Examiners, Guam Department of Public Health, the Guam Nurses Association, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Health Services of the Pacific repeatedly urged passage, but the bill did not move forward.

“As we look at recovering from COVID-19 and also attracting new industries, ensuring that our healthcare capacity is up-to-par is paramount to moving forward,” said Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes. “Our nurses stepped up, now more than ever – we need to help them.”

“Bill 13 provides an important step towards a solution to the chronic nursing shortage at our hospitals,” said Senator Shelton. “Amid a global pandemic, our nurses continue to work to provide quality care for our people. It’s high time we take care of them, too.”

“I want to thank our nurses who’ve worked tirelessly to keep our community safe throughout this pandemic,” concluded Torres. “You’ve fought at the front lines for us—Bill 13 is our commitment that we won’t stop fighting for you.”