It happened again.

On Tuesday, Guam Memorial Hospital had to go on a “divert status” which essentially means some patients had to look for care elsewhere because of a lack of capacity to adequately care for patients stemming from a shortage of specialty nurses.

Under a divert status, patients who couldn’t get care at GMH could seek help at the privately run Guam Regional Medical City. However, even GRMC at a certain point the same day was also filling up with patients.

At GMH, a shortage of nurses has meant that seriously ill patients and patients with cardiac emergencies had to wait in the emergency room.

With ERs in both hospitals filled at one point, they had to take turns admitting patients to ease the flow of incoming patients, said Cindy Hanson, GRMC spokeswoman.

It has become a recurring event that GMH overflows because it lacks the type of specialty and experienced nurses needed to keep a certain number hospital beds open within the standards of care.

We’ve also heard GMH officials giving the same explanation over and over again that GMH is short of specialized nurses. These types of nurses tend to be migratory – they tend to go to areas where they are paid higher.

Guam has a good program for entry-level nurses, but as soon as they’ve met certain certifications, they go for jobs elsewhere but Guam.

It’s time for Guam's elected officials to really face the problem head-on and come up with long-term solutions, rather than issue press releases that look good but don't directly address underlying problems at GMH and our local health care environment in general.

We remain hopeful that those who promised during the election season to do everything within their power to improve Guam health care will be true to their word now that they're seated.

Elected officials, step up to the plate please.

Recommended for you