The Ailing Health of Our Only Civilian Hospital
Immediate Release: February 07, 2011
Hafa Adai my fellow Guamanians,
The government is struggling with its ailments. Its financial health is weak. In fact, if the government of Guam was a person, he or she would probably be in the hospital.
The Guam Memorial Hospital is facing more serious challenges than other agencies and departments. It also has a pivotal role to play in our island community. Unfortunately, when the hospital is suffering, it also means our sick, our manamko’, and our children also suffer. A cash-strapped hospital means not enough medicine to prescribe. It means there aren’t enough clean beds. It means there aren’t enough nurses or doctors.
I can’t get past many of the deficiencies at GMH. We are a modern community living in the Twenty-first Century. Yet, our only civilian hospital runs out of blood products and can’t even provide pain killers to women in labor. Patients wait hours to see a doctor. Nurses are working multiple shifts because there’s a shortage. Floors are strewn with bloodied medical waste and water-soaked linens. Lt. Governor Tenorio and I know this because we toured GMH early this week to see the problems for ourselves. I know this as a father, because my oldest daughter was in so much pain when GMH used a dull blade to cut off her arm cast.
You know about these problems and more from your experiences with the hospital. The staff shines, but they can only do so much with the little they get.
That’s why I authorized $12 million in financing as soon as I could. It will inject much-needed cash to care for our most vulnerable. When it comes to the safety of our elderly, the education of our students, or the health of our sick, this government must do all it can to shield them from any economic storm. During these tough financial times one principle will guide this administration: do the least harm to the most needy.
All public servants have a fiduciary responsibility to Guamanians, but for institutions like GMH–where actions or inactions could cost lives, it is even more important to have the right people in place. I met some fantastic people when we toured GMH. The employees I talked with were energetic, bright, and polite. They were excited about the assistance they would get soon, but acknowledged more help is needed. They understand the weight of their positions. They know the important role they play on our island.
With bold leadership, the hospital can begin its journey to better financial health and stronger operations.
Ray and I will be there to provide the support GMH needs to improve its services for you. We mean business. The hospital is not a place for politics or for excuses. When you go there, you are placing your life in the hospital’s hands. We don’t take that responsibility lightly, and we will not tolerate anyone who does. To this end, we are working with the Hospital’s leadership to make some much-needed changes at GMH.
Ray and I promised you a new and better direction, and we’re delivering on that promise.
Thank you and good night.
**Video file will be delivered to PNC, KUAM and PBS today. It is available upon request.

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