When I came to visit Peter Sgro at Guam Regional Medical City after his back surgery a couple of months ago, I found papers stacked up on a table next to his hospital bed. Barely recuperating, he was going through a document. “This is a proposal I would submit to GEDA,” he said.
The paper contained recommendations on how to build Guam’s new hospital. “The government is paying its consultant $6 million while I am giving this for free,” he said.
“You’re carrying the world on your shoulders. I think you should rest and recover first,” I said as I handed him a box of vegetable salad.
“You’ll be the first one to get the story,” he said.
“I’m here as a friend, not a journalist. I am not interviewing you. Eat your salad,” I said.
But he went on chewing over his ideas—and he had a lot. He spoke with an overwhelming passion about nearly every issue affecting Guam: health care, drug problems, government corruption, land grabbing, abortion and religion, among others.
“I care so much for this island,” he said.
We knew that about him. At times, he was misunderstood and on certain occasions, shunned by fools.
I’ve never met anyone who cared for Guam as much as he did. As soon as he got out of the hospital, he mobilized a rally in Adelup to call for government reforms. He spent time with the homeless, feeding them and listening to their stories when no one would. He shared his tiny apartment with a homeless man, a testament to his incredible selflessness.
I met Pete in 2006 for an interview after he formed the Healthcare Development Foundation, whose ambitious goal was to build a private hospital.
The idea, he said, was spawned by his encounter with the island’s inadequate healthcare system when his mother was hospitalized at Guam Memorial Hospital, which has historically been a subject of political bickering.
Pete wasn’t just a talker. He delivered results.
Steering clear of politics, Pete gathered the island’s best minds, drafted a comprehensive plan and courted serious investors. On an island that has perfected failures, Pete was an aberration.
His plan was initially met with skepticism. Naysayers dismissed it as a pipe dream but Pete persevered with confidence.
In the summer of 2015, Guam’s healthcare landscape changed when GRMC, a $240 million facility with a 130-bed capacity, opened its doors. He recruited medical specialists and health care professionals to Guam, providing a new option for local patients who otherwise had to travel off-island for medical care.
GRMC was a monument to Pete's brilliance, the culmination of his long years of hard work and the realization of his vision.
Guam mourns Pete’s untimely departure but his legacy lives on. Goodbye, Pete.