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Senators write to U.S. defense department

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 4, 2010) – Two island senators yesterday wrote letters to the Defense Department voicing their concerns about the Guam Memorial Hospital's capacity for more patients when the military buildup increases the island's civilian population.

The Guam Memorial Hospital is in dire need of capital improvement projects, said Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz in a letter to retired Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, which oversees military buildup readiness.

"If Guam is to keep up with the national average, it will need 500 to 600 acute care hospital beds, an expanded emergency room and intensive care unit, and funding to support the 41,194 new residents projected in the (final Environmental Impact Statement on the military buildup) by 2016," wrote Cruz, who is seeking re-election. He said he hopes the Defense Department will rectify problems that will arise in the civilian community with the enormous impact of the buildup.

Sen. Telo Taitague also wrote a letter yesterday, to Dorothy Robyn, a Defense Department deputy undersecretary.

During the final EIS briefings, Taitague said in a press release, she brought up her concern about GMH's "grave overcrowding issues."

"GMH has a total of 250 beds, with our population of 175,000 -- that comes to 1.19 beds per thousand residents," Taitague, who is seeking re-election, said in a press release yesterday.

When DOD's civilian workforce peaks on Guam, the island will have only one-fourth of the number of hospital beds per 1,000 residents that Americans living elsewhere have, Taitague added.

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