Guam Senator Proposes Building New Memorial Hospital

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Rodriguez: Savings from debt refinance could fund facility

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 21, 2015) – Sen. Dennis Rodriguez Jr. is proposing to refinance GovGuam's $343 million debt and extract "savings" -- from the proposed refinancing -- to pay for the construction of a new Guam Memorial Hospital facility.

Rodriguez yesterday introduced Bill 80, which states, in part, that refinancing GovGuam's $343 million debt, borrowed from bond investors in 2007, would result in significant "savings" to the government of Guam.

Rodriguez estimates the amount of savings to be upwards of $45 million, which, according to Rodriguez's legislation, should be "applied toward capital improvements relating to Guam Memorial Hospital, in the form of construction of a new facility."

"The $45 million will be a seed to start up the process that will ensure that we have the funds to start a new hospital," Rodriguez said.

"The funds allocated therein shall be in addition to the annual budget allocation and budgeted appropriated levels provided to the Guam Memorial Hospital," Rodriguez's bill states.

Rodriguez said the savings derived from Bill 80 will not require any new obligations from GovGuam.

GovGuam can refinance existing debt, but can't take on new bond borrowing because its debt ceiling is nearly maxed out.

A press conference was held yesterday to announce the plans for the new project.

Century 21 President Chris Felix, a member of a legislative task force developing the project's overall plan, said a ballpark figure for building a new hospital would be around $200 million.

"We keep renovating and tacking on new parts but sooner or later something has to give," said GMH nursing director and interim CEO Zennia Pecina, who is in favor of the proposed facility.

Pecina said consistent leaking and flooding has been an issue for GMH.

"Our staff are world-class and they deserve a top-notch facility to operate in. Our people deserve a brand new facility," Pecina said.

GMH chief planner William Kando said the majority of the hospital is at least 45 years old. Kando said the estimated life of a reinforced concrete building is 40 years.

Rodriguez hopes the hospital will be complete within four to five years, according to a press release from his office.

The release stated the new facility would include a specialty heart center, a modernized maternity ward and other speciality services not offered on island.

In a statement, Rodriguez said those working on the project will be in communication with Guam's new private hospital, Guam Regional Medical City, expected to open soon. They will work to ensure services aren't redundant, he said.

"Both hospitals, including our private providers of outpatient services should be able to coexist and this effort will create an environment to make it happen," Rodriguez said in the statement.

Tina Garcia, business development and public finance manager with the Guam Economic Development Authority, said in a statement that "GEDA is ready to offer whatever financing assistance is needed to move this process along."

No location for the new hospital has been set, though Rodriguez said it will be constructed within GovGuam's existing footprint.

A legislative task force that includes Rodriguez and local business leaders has been tasked with developing a "plan of action" for the project as well as a business model within 60 days of its first meeting.

Content Coach Kyle Daly contributed to this report.

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