Marianas Business Journal

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (May 23, 2011) – The presence of good health care facilities is one of the reliable indicators to determine the health and well-being of a community. And if the Guam Memorial Hospital was to be the sole basis of judgment, Guam cannot claim to be that healthy.

For many years, Guam’s only civilian hospital has been showing symptoms of illness, caused mainly by its financial stress. GMH is filled with dedicated staff, nurses, support employees and medical professionals. But its ability to provide specialty medical care is restricted by its weak revenue base.

Hospital officials say 30 percent of its customers are nonpaying patients, whom the staff cannot turn away if they show up to seek medical care. The public hospital is stuck in a quagmire, from which it gets out occasionally through subsidies from the general fund and federal grants.

The good news for the community is the private hospital project initiated by the Guam Healthcare & Hospital Development Foundation - composed of individuals from different sectors of the community - is now moving ahead as planned.

The foundation and its partners have just completed the first step in the design phase of the Guam Regional Medical City, following a five-day charette which brought together dozens of construction and design professionals, and produced the initial plans for the project.

The US$197-million hospital project, which will be equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment and facility, also promises to bring specialty doctors.

The new hospital, once built and operational, will not be competition for GMH, according to Peter R. Sgro Jr., foundation president and board chairman. Rather, the private hospital seeks to "co-exist" with the government hospital by complementing what it lacks.

Another refreshing development in the island’s medical care system is the renovation and expansion of the Naval Hospital, which is targeted for completion in September. Plans for expanded government health centers are also appealing.

In the coming years, Guam’s population will swell by thousands as a result of the military buildup. Subsequently, the community’s health care needs will grow. Seeing the expansion of health care services on Guam is definitely a soothing development.

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