Problems at Guam Memorial Hospital lead long-term health care hurdles

GMH: The Guam Memorial Hospital's Z Wing is shown on Sunday, March 7, 2021, in Tamuning. The wing has been in such disrepair that most operations were moved out years ago. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

The Guam Memorial Hospital Authority is hoping to offset a $1.9 million debt on employee health insurance to Aetna International, the former health insurance carrier for the government of Guam, as about $10 million in patient receivables is still owed to the hospital by the company.

According to Mai Habib, GMHA spokeswoman, the hospital submitted an offer to Aetna and is awaiting a response.

But Habib added that GMHA has been making regular payments on the balance and is in good standing with the insurance company.

"We continue to work collaboratively to reconcile the balances," she said. 

GMHA Administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas spoke about the balance during a board meeting last week Friday. She said the hospital will try to see if it can offset what is owed to Aetna, considering the millions still owed to GMHA.

Also during that meeting, the board voted to extend the administrator's contract for 30 days to provide an opportunity for review. The board made the decision after going into executive session. Perez-Posadas' contract would have otherwise ended July 31, according to discussions Friday. 

Perez-Posadas was initially hired by the board under a two-year contract. 

Capital improvement work

The board also heard updates on capital improvement projects. GMHA Associate Administrator William Kando said architectural and engineering design for roofing and envelope upgrades will now be proceeding in phases.

The hospital's aged and worn HVAC system constituted a major portion of the recent Army Corps of Engineers assessment of the facility.

Kando said GMHA received authorization from the U.S. Department of the Interior to utilize two large sums of money, approaching $6 million combined.

"We're going to be able to do some pretty exciting things going forward ... the OR, ED and ICU upgrades and things of that nature. So, very excited about that," Kando said.

In May, the hospital board voted to retrofit 14% of the hospital's Z-Wing, the oldest section of the facility that for years was slated for demolition.

The rest of the Z-Wing was still destined for demolition. The project was estimated to cost about $1.7 million. It is intended to create additional parking space, but also allow the hospital to use the remaining portion of the building, which otherwise should not be occupied. 

On Friday, Kando said the abatement phase of the project is ongoing.  

"We anticipate the contractor finishing ahead of schedule ... shooting for the end of August. They've been focusing first on the second floor, relative to the removal of asbestos under the flooring. And then removing lead paint both on the second floor and first floor," he added.

The design for the demolition is in progress, according to Kando. The demolition design will be followed by the retrofit design and then the design for the parking lot expansion, he added. 

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