Over the past several weeks, more problems related to the deteriorating conditions at Guam Memorial Hospital have surfaced.
One of its two boilers – key to keeping hot water at a certain temperature and hospital equipment sanitized – broke down. One of the hospital's four operating rooms had been unusable because the air-conditioning system isn't functioning properly.
These more recent revelations are in addition to recent breakdowns of elevators that are necessary to transport patients, medical staff, meals and supplies. These more recent occurrences are in addition to the years-old problem with the hospital's leaking roof. These previously mentioned facilities problems are on top of the issue with the entire wing at the hospital that's been abandoned, structurally condemned and literally falling apart one chipped concrete and one corroded rebar at a time.
These are just the facilities problems at GMH.
There are problems with cash flow, too. There have been times when GMH physicians who work at the government hospital, some of them part-time and others in-house, have been prompted by their moral obligation to seek an emergency declaration to get the hospital's suppliers of medicine, blood, anesthesia, oxygen and other life-saving supplies and equipment paid first.
“Whereas, the continuing shortage of basic medicines and clinical supplies at the Guam Memorial Hospital has put the health and safety of the people of Guam in imminent danger,” says one of the declarations from the Guam Medical Association way back in 2010.
Almost a decade later, GMH still struggles with a cycle of low cash flow, having to plead for the governor's office and senators to provide a financial subsidy to catch up with unpaid bills and to cover for services of many patients who aren't able to pay for hospitalization.
Recurring news reporting on GMH's issues can numb Guam residents into tuning out the hospital's struggles. As mind-numbing as this long list of GMH issues may seem, it's important we the public continue to pay attention so that elected officials who promised to help GMH will keep their word.
It's also important that we support the hardworking professionals at GMH – not the politically appointed, semi-unqualified ones who are hidden in the hospital's payroll – because they continue to stay committed to serving the hospital's patients even when they have to get by with tough working conditions.
It's been 10 months since Guam voters saw the new set of elected officials get seated in public office. Ten months is a long time to have started chipping away at the issues concerning GMH's challenges financially, structurally and equipment-wise, along with all the other problems that persist.
We understand that the governor has her hands full on many matters concerning GovGuam.
But she did hire a bunch of highly paid advisers who are familiar with GMH's problems – former Gov. Carl Gutierrez, former Del. Madeleine Bordallo, former administration Deputy Director Vince Arriola and former Sen. Carlotta Leon Guerrero – just to name a few. They are among officials who can really help out with meaningful solutions GMH sorely needs.
It's time for the governor to set her foot down – and for some of her officials to prioritize their focus on GMH. Trips to Washington, D.C., trips to Manila, preparations for a festival in Hawaii and all the other stuff are nothing compared to the problem that is GMH.
We need you to focus.