• By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

74 new Covid cases; 5 doctors infected; GMH hit over capacity


The Joint Information Center on Thursday reported 74 new Covid-19 positive cases, accounting for a little over 10 percent of the 718 samples tested on Sept. 2.

To date, there have been a total of 1,560 confirmed cases with 15 deaths, 716 not in isolation, and 831 cases in active isolation. Of those cases, 1,334 are classified as civilians and 226 are military service members.

Press Secretary Krystal Paco San Agustin said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is “inclined to extend her stay-at-home order and Guam PCOR1.”

Further announcement will be made at a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.

According to sources at the Guam Memorial Hospital, the government-run medical facility has hit over capacity, with staff that has further shrunk due to the coronavirus outbreak that has infected doctors and nurses.

"GMH has a staff bed capacity of 135 beds. They are currently at capacity with another nine patients holding in the Emergency Department. Fifty one of them are Covid patients and 10 of them are on ventilators. So nine over capacity and 35 percent Covid positive," one of the sources said. "I'm not sure how much of this is necessarily supposed to make its way out into the public. I kinda think the public deserves to know it."

Another source at GMH said 32 hospital employees are Covid-19 positive, five of them are doctors and the rest are mostly nurses.

The source said there are barely enough health care employees attending to the patients right now. "The nurses are holding the line very well despite the challenges but they are nearing the breaking point. Most staff feel very disappointed in this hospital leadership. They don't seem to have a plan. Decisions seem to be made moment to moment."

GMH relies on the Guam Department of Education’s Nursing Unit, the Guam National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for care support and staff reinforcement.

An email to GMH administrator Lillian Posadas was not answered as of this writing.

In a press conference last week, Posadas said GMH has added seven additional ICU beds. She said 14 beds on the second floor have been partitioned between “non-Covid ICU and Covid ICU.”

The third floor, she said, has an area with six beds that can accommodate ICU care. “That is 17 beds for ICU patients,” she said last week. “We do have beds that can be for telemetry or regular medical patients. That's a 26-bed area.”

Posadas said GMH has requested GDOE for at least 10 school nurses.

The 54-bed Skilled Nursing Unit in Barrigada Heights, which was originally designated as an isolation facility, is not ready to accommodate patients because the air-conditioning system needs an upgrade.

Posadas said a contract to replace the AC is still being reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office.

The source at GMH said the SNU was vacated around June. “Prior to the AC issue, nothing was wrong with the infrastructure. Due to the low Covid cases at the time, the administration felt that it did not justify a need for an isolation facility. So now, we are unprepared,” the source said.

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Earlier in the day, the Joint Information Center reported that two more employees of GDOE and two more firefighters tested positive.

At GDOE, JIC said one case was identified at Merizo Martyrs Memorial School and another one at M.U. Lujan Elementary School. Both cases were identified through contact tracing, JIC said.

On Sunday and Monday, two firefighters at the the Dededo ad Tamuning Fire Stations tested positive for Covid-19 ad was ordered to go into home isolation.

"Interviews were conducted at both stations and it was determined that no personnel met the close contact criteria at the Tamuning Fire Station; however, because of the closer quarters and additional Rescue personnel at the Dededo Fire Station, the possibility of close contact spread was significantly increased," JIC said.

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