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  • By Aline Yamashita

Overworked, underrated

Today is day 8 of surviving food poisoning or stomach flu or a combination. My stomach and my back and my head and my muscles were in full concert. Their ambition was to have me chuck and churn whenever possible. Gas and nausea added fuel to the fire. The body was in charge. It has been exhausting.

Because I’ve been here before, I knew what to do and what not to do.

But, there are many who do not.

There are sick folks who need a hospital that welcomes each person not feeling well 24-7. We need Guam Memorial Hospital.

When dad had difficulty breathing and it was clear, there were problems, he was admitted to Guam Memorial Hospital. Not once but maybe, twice. We knew many of the questions to ask. Not all – maybe hardly any of the important ones. But, they did. And, they knew the answers.

When it was decided that dad should be medically evacuated to another hospital for further treatment, we left.

Mom was able to cover the costs. We were blessed.

But there are many – in fact, most, who cannot afford to go off island.

Ryan and Eric were born at GMH. When Families First! was in office, we toured the hospital. In full support of renovating the floor where families are born, I was struck by how everything is the same – the professionalism, the smiles, the same thin beds, the lack of space, the narrow toilets. At this point, my heart cried at the neonatal intensive care unit – they had to share warming lights.

We give birth to about 300 babies a month. Without GMH, where in the world would they be born? While Sagua has a steady rate of delivering bundles of joy, they depend on GMH for emergency situations.

Ryan was having a grand time playing football with his buddies. It had rained – so it was muddy. He was bare foot. I’ll never understand that joy of squishing in the mud but they were having a blast – until he slipped and wrecked his toe. Those are the phone calls that I absolutely dread.

An ambulance took him to GMH and he was provided excellent care.

Like many of you, I have joined many families in the viewing room to pray. We know the white tiles. We know the white linens. We know the palpable pain. We know the love. We know death is a part of life.

Guam Memorial Hospital has no shortage of patients. GMH has treated over 2 million patients during the last 40 years.

By the grace of God, Guam Memorial Hospital continues to have professionals who remain to care for us.

Guam Memorial Hospital is a public hospital – all are cared for – regardless of paying ability. Over 60% of those treated don’t have insurance or are unable to pay their share. This results in an annual $30 million financial hole. Bill 141-34 will enable GMH to modernize its services. Bill 142-34 will increase GRT from 4 percent to 4.75 percent to repay the bond and generate additional funds to help finance GMH. The financial experts have steered us well thus far.

We increased fees to better our roads. We increased fees for power and water. We cope with the costs of food. We adjust to increased costs of trucks and cars. If we do not step in now and modernize our hospital, it will crumble. If we do not provide updated equipment, we may lose our professionals.

Yes, GMH is in need of financial care and know that this plan will help GMH continue to be our hospital where we are born, where we get well, where we say prayers.

Aline Yamashita is an educator and former senator. Send feedback to

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