- By Dr. Vince Akimoto
Twas the Night before Christmas
I had sadly come to the conclusion that there would be no joyful solution this holiday season for Guam Memorial Hospital's perpetual financial distress, its bloated payroll, or its long-standing Life Safety violations which have stripped it of Joint Commission accreditation.
"When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash,"
And suddenly, I saw all the politicians at Adelup and Public Health leaving off-island on travel junkets to ask the federal government for more money…
Really? It is Christmas, people! All the federal tax collectors in Washington, D.C. have gone home!
... "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse".
Oblivious to all the fiscal drama at our island's general hospital, people keep getting into car accidents, stabbing each other in the eye with dirty kitchen knives, and catching pneumonia. GMH is an important place. GMH is an especially important place for the children because that's where they can go every Halloween to get their candy x-rayed to make sure nobody put razor blades in them.
"The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Donald Trump soon would be there";
But we all know Donald Trump won’t make a very good Santa Claus this year, now don’t we, children?
The fact of the matter is that Christmas was never about free gifts wrapped in pretty paper or fake platitudes spouted by rotund, red-faced leaders of the free world. Christmas is about an unwanted baby born in a barn, in a stable where animals had been left to huddle together thru a cold, winter night. Christmas is about the disappointment and sadness of a family rejected because there was no room at the inn. Christmas is a story about the cruelty of government policies that would force a pregnant woman to walk to Bethlehem in the coldest season of the year. The story of Christmas is the story of GMH.
The GMH Mission Statement is to provide quality patient care in a safe environment. The great privilege given to those who fund GMH is the opportunity to serve our island’s sick and dying regardless of their ability to pay. This is the true spirit of Christmas.
Local insurance company executives point out that the primary objective of the GMH administration has been to struggle to make payroll. Thusly, fire safety costs, electrical facilities maintenance costs, and critical medical costs have all been made subservient to the $10 million salary and benefits being invested in the 200 GMH employees who are unnecessary for essential hospital function.
Government does not produce anything if it does not provide the basic services of public health, safety and education. Obviously, GovGuam has failed to intelligently prepare for the predictable economic realities of decades of overspending and recent federal tax reform. This failure of government is manifested by an unsafe Guam Memorial Hospital, a broken Simon Sanchez high School, and too few police officers protecting our village streets.
The people of this island have had to endure a harsh tax on food and medicine, skyrocketing fuel prices at the gas stations, and cruel rate increases for water and power. The cost for a local family to build a new home on their own land is made unattainable for many because of the lack of sewer and utility infrastructure. Our local people have become increasingly disenfranchised and too many are forced to look off-island for a better way of life.
The recent tax increases on the hard-working people of Guam in order to avoid controlling government overspending is heartbreaking. $33 million a month in GovGuam . $105 million GovGuam deficit. $1 billion 2018-2019 GovGuam budget. In the face of basic government failures, our politicians have sent a clear message of priority valuation to Guam taxpayers, international investors, and our children: GovGuam leaders care more for themselves and their friends then they care for you.
Standing under the mistletoe this holiday season and blaming GMH fiscal shortfalls on having to care for the poor is petty and cruel. Governor Calvo must now do the only right thing he can do and declare a GMH State of Emergency to release necessary government funds to ensure that
the hospital can maintain safe operations until the new year.
Dr. Vince Akimoto practices Family Medicine at the American Medical Clinic. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.