On NewsTalk K57 earlier this morning, Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes explained she has been off-island and away from the 36th Guam Legislature because she is recovering from a car accident in September last year.
“All those necessary documents [for leave] were turned in to the proper channels within the Legislature,” she said, adding that she alerted the Office of the Speaker, the Committee on Rules (COR), and the Acting Chair for her commitment to the situation.
She said she accompanied her husband, a retired veteran, to Arizona to receive medical treatment that isn’t available on-island. “Guam doesn’t have the specialty,” she said, “let alone the facilities.”
Guam’s healthcare system
On the topic of Guam’s healthcare system, Muña Barnes mentioned the planned hospital at Eagles Field and suggested it would still not be able to address completely the demands of healthcare in Guam. “I personally think [the medical complex] is not large enough per capita.”
The island has among the highest number of enlisted veterans per capita, she added. “Our military personnel is a recruiter’s heaven, yet when it comes to receiving medical care, Guam is still not up to par.”
The lack of available healthcare services for Guam’s veterans and residents is a concern not only of the Vice Speaker but also of the Republican Party of Guam, who in an official statement, wished Muña Barnes a speedy recovery.
“The issues which the Vice Speaker and her family face today mirror the realities of what so many of our families endure daily,” they stated. The Republican Party of Guam echoed her sentiment, saying that the people of Guam need to press for improvements to the healthcare system and to strive to support Guam’s veterans.
“Good news is that with all the therapy, the physical therapy, and the trauma counseling, things are getting better,” said Muña Barnes. “I’m really hoping that when I see the concussion specialist in early February, he will give me a signal to come home.”