GUAM DOCTORS RALLY OVER HOSPITAL CARE

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By Oyaol Ngirairikl

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 19) - About 30 doctors, nurses and other residents rallied for quality health care at the hospital in the ongoing conflict between a group of doctors and the administrators of Guam's only public hospital.

At the center of the controversy are the people of Guam, said people from opposing sides, who've said they only want to be able to provide the public with quality health care at Guam Memorial Hospital.

But as illustrated by yesterday's rally, doctors and administrators have yet to agree on how the two sides can improve hospital services.

Hospital Administrator Bill McMillan has said cash flow and procurement procedures have hindered his ability to ensure the hospital has medication and other needed medical supplies and tools.

At yesterday's rally, doctors and nurses said the cash-flow issues and procurement requirements haven't changed in years.

Drs. Edwardo Cruz, Olivia Cruz, Kwang-Ming Chen and Edmund Griley were a few of the doctors who addressed the small crowd. They said McMillan and GMH Medical Director Dr. George Macris have been unable to meet doctors' needs and are not receptive to their concerns.

Mangilao resident Joe Peredo watched as doctors, nurses and Guam Federation of Teachers President Matt Rector spoke to the crowd about a variety of problems, from inadequate medical equipment to a union contract for nurses.

"I'm not sure about all the things that are going on," Peredo said. "But I'm listening to these folks here today and I'm concerned because if you have this many doctors and staff concerned with the administration, then there has to be something wrong.

"I don't know what it is, but it's clear there's some sort of money management and priority issues that need to be looked into -- something has to be done," the Mangilao resident said.

Peredo added that, based on his observations while visiting people at the hospital and what he's read and heard in the past few weeks, he's concerned that the hospital is not capable of providing quality health care.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'll give it a five right now," he said.

But for years, doctors have expressed concerns at the hospital despite changes in the hospital's government-appointed administrators.

Letters from doctors to hospital officials nearly a decade ago note how doctors and other medical staff have struggled to provide adequate care despite the lack of medicines, supplies, nurses and doctors.

In a June 1997 letter, Dr. Ricardo Eusebio wrote a letter to administrators providing scheduling solutions because two of the hospital's four operating rooms were shut down.

In an April 1998 letter from Dr. Michael Cruz, a surgeon and now senator, there was concern raised that the "Hospital Call Schedule" did "not show a physician name for at least seven days every month."

In a letter dated March 1998, from Dr. Jan. A. Bollinger to then-hospital Administrator Tyrone Taitano, the operating room had run out of an item needed to "minimize the risk of infection and loss of function" of a patient's fractured right forearm. The letter states the patient's arm was saved because the patient was able to be seen at Navy Hospital.

But despite all the letters, there hasn't been any changes, Dr. Edwardo Cruz said.

Now doctors are saying Guam Memorial Hospital's current administration has been unable to ensure the hospital is adequately supplied with medicines and medical tools -- a problem that has existed for at least the past 10 years.

Also, Dr. Edwardo Cruz and others said the administration is unwilling to sit down and talk about plausible solutions.

January 20, 2005

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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