Guam Governor Appoints Proven Administrator To Assist Hospital

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Dept. of Administration Director to help resolve GMH’s financial problems

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 9, 2014) – During a town hall meeting with hospital staff at Guam Memorial Hospital, Gov. Eddie Calvo on Tuesday appointed Department of Administration Director Benita Manglona to help resolve the facility's financial woes.

Manglona was instrumental in solving Guam's $336 million deficit problem when Gov. Calvo took office communications for the governor's office.

Torres said the governor's office and the hospital are working out the details of when Manglona will start and what role she will play in the oversight of finances. Torres added that once Manglona gets started, she will be able to provide a fresh set of eyes to the hospital's finances.

He also cited the DOA director's history with health care as a reason why she'll do a good job.

"The other thing that is unique about Benita is that she has a soft spot for the hospital and medical care because of her personal struggles she and her family have gone through," Torres said.

The plan to transfer Manglona to the hospital has been something the governor has been working out with hospital management for a few months, Torres said.

Confidence

He said that Calvo still has confidence in GMH Administrator Joseph Verga and the hospital management. He also pointed out that the hospital's patient care quality under Verga has improved considerably since replacing former administrator Ray Vega.

In July, Congress approved a bill that creates a $9 million fund that would help the government-run hospital and clinics that accept Medicaid. During the law-signing ceremony, Gov. Calvo also announced that the federal government would match 57 percent of the Medicaid program's total cost.

Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz, D-Piti, was pleased with the governor's decision to transfer Manglona and said that GMH Chief Financial Officer Alan Ulrich was planning to resign.

"I understand that Mr. Ulrich is leaving or going to be leaving very soon," Cruz said. "I'm happy that the governor is going to assign someone he trusts. ... It's good that someone who knows government finance is going to go there."

GMH spokeswoman June Perez denied Cruz's claim regarding Ulrich's resignation and said the CFO was off island on emergency leave. She also said the hospital expects him back on Oct. 21.

Ulrich could not be reached immediately by phone yesterday evening.

Criticism

During an oversight hearing in September, Ulrich and GMH Administrator Joseph Verga faced harsh criticism from Cruz, who led a tough line of questioning regarding the hospital's leadership.

Despite Verga's plans in May to submit a new proposal to the federal government for Medicare Reimbursement, the hospital is finalizing the application.

The application is expected to go out within the next 10 days, Verga said, citing a lack of necessary data as the reason the process was extended.

He added that every time GMH has sent in preliminary data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that provides Medicare, it has requested more information from the hospital.

Although GMH has been struggling financially, the federal agency has been impressed with the changes at the hospital, Verga said.

He added that the centerpiece of his administration has been to improve the hospital's finances.

In May, Verga told the Pacific Daily News he wanted to increase the per-patient Medicare reimbursement to $1,600 per day from the $1,100 it currently receives. However, he now plans to have the reimbursement increased to $1,800 a day.

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