The Guam Women’s Chamber organized a Small Business Innovation town hall last week featuring businesses that have pivoted their operations despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those who spoke during the virtual town hall was Lina Leon Guerrero — one of the co-founders of Sagua Mañagu —- Guam’s first private, women-owned and managed birthing center.
She spoke about the importance of preserving the continuity of care for patients while ensuring the health and safety of their employees.
With the new marching orders, she said Sagua Mañagu began to pivot, to modify and go forward.
“We know — for us — we want everyone to know our objectives and we want our staff to understand that we are after the continuity of care. We want to reduce the risk of exposure and we also needed to protect our employees in terms of their jobs for as long as possible,” Leon Guerrero said.
Within the facility, management also made changes in compliance with the government’s COVID-19 directive. And what do those modifications look like?
“The waiting area has been stripped of all reading materials. We removed, moved some of the chairs to allow for better spacing. We also increased the frequency of cleanup and disinfection not just in the clinical areas but also in the administrative areas as well,” Leon Guerrero said.
Sagua Mañagu also continued its prenatal care and well-baby visits and rescheduled all elective and non-urgent care services.
They also introduced telehealth services.
“We reduced the number of providers that we have in the clinic on a daily basis by 20 percent because that will reduce foot traffic and thereby reduce the risk of exposure of our patients and our staff,” she said.
For Pika Fejeran — owner of Kitchen Lingo, Pika’s Cafe, and Kådu — while the pandemic impacted local businesses, it also opened up avenues for innovation. In her case, it was an innovation spurred by giving.
“When we reopened Kådu, we did it at the same time we launched Kådu Caregivers program. And in this program, we were just really the catalyst and we are just connecting people. So in the Kådu Caregivers program, Kådu does what Kådu does best, — and that is to cook wholesome comfort food. Our nonprofit partners are Mañelu and Catholic Social Services. The food delivery services Grab-N-Grub, who we have developed a good working relationship with, they stepped in to deliver the food wherever it needed to go,” Fejeran said.
Michelle Crisostomo, the President and co-founder of Guåhan Sustainable Culture, talked about innovation in small-scale farming. For me, innovation is important even before the pandemic.
“Another way that I try to be innovative is to use downtime to implement a lot of new things. I’ve implemented a few strategies to keep the micro-greens business afloat. And most of my customers right now are restaurants, cafes, and hotels. When all of those businesses shut their doors during the pandemic, I had to shift my strategy to provide to households and to families which I had never done before,” Crisostomo said.
The town hall also featured Amber Word, and Livia Marati. The panelists spoke about keeping their businesses afloat during these challenging times.