White  Albatross


I was cleaning the bathroom at the American Medical Center in Mangilao the other day when a thought popped in my head: toilets are like albatrosses in that they are both typically large-mouthed, porcelain white, heavy entities that are surrounded by a lot of poop.

Speaking of clean toilets, the ancient Chamoru must have been meticulously clean people with a pragmatic sensibility about sanitation. Visiting European scholars typically described the Chamoru as sturdy, handsome human beings with strong muscular men capable of moving tons of limestone in order to make durable Latte stone villages. Modern science has proven that it is hard to prevent disease and raise your kids to be big and strong if you can’t keep E. coli out of your ancient Chamoru drinking water.

Last I checked, the bathrooms at the Guam Memorial Hospital are not consistently clean. I have endured the verbal abuse of hospital critics who pontificate about how much GMH stinks and how they never touch anything at the hospital without first scrubbing the surface with baby wipes. People are all pissy about poor sanitation when it affects them personally, I have observed.

Last year, more than 10,000 GMH patients urinated in the Emergency Room bathroom. Some missed. Poor aim, inebriation, pharmaceutical diuresis, or explosive diarrhea. Whatever the reason, the GMH housekeeping staff has one of the dirtiest, most unrewarding, potentially dangerous jobs on Guam. Please give them a hug.

GMH lost Joint Commission accreditation two years ago because it repeatedly failed to maintain national healthcare standards for patient safety. Since last Christmas, GMH has failed to replace a dysfunctional, decades-old electrical panel that hospital officials claimed was a life-threatening liability. GMH has failed to hire sufficient nurses; patch its leaky roof; competently maintain patient elevators; and consistently cut the grass in its filthy parking lot.

On a good day, GMH has 130 beds to offer very sick Guam patients who are too sick to be cared for in their own bed at home. GMH claims that it has chronic nursing staff shortages thus justifying why it has been unable to keep open more than 50 additional beds.

GMH has also claimed that it has a staffing shortage of competent business people thus justifying why it has been unable to collect millions of dollars in unp