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GMH hits ICU capacity, suspends elective surgeries

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Guam Memorial Hospital's intensive care unit is reaching absolute capacity, prompting the hospital administration to suspend all elective surgeries.

Of the 14 patients in ICU, nine are Covid-19 cases, said Mai Habib, communications director at GMH.

Habib said GMH currently has a total of 175 hospital admissions, of which 45 are Covid patients.

GMH's main facility in Tamuning has 161 beds. Some of the patients will be confined at the 40-bed Skilled Nursing Unit in Barrigada Heights.

"During this Covid-surge, GMH’s teams have worked hard to ensure the highest quality care for all patients, despite bed and staffing shortages," GMH said in a press release. "Initially in August, the hospital suspended outpatient services to accommodate the influx of patients."

GMH said all elective surgeries at GMH will be suspended starting Tuesday, Sept. 21 and until further notice.

"While the hope was to continue elective surgeries during this virus-wave, unfortunately, the Covid census and demands on the hospital have reached a critical point," hospital officials said.

GMH will now maintain and staff one operating room for emergency cases, while redirecting all remaining staff and resources to support the continued influx of Covid patients, particularly those who need ICU and telemetry level of care.

GMH said it is also working on other ways to expand its bed capacity and staff resources. This includes moving additional stable, non-acute, non-Covid patients to the SNF, rerouting all administrative nurses to the hospital floors for clinical support and continuing to work with federal partners to request emergency FEMA clinical staff.

GMH CEO Lillian Perez-Posadas said the hospital administration will continue to analyze the situation and make decisions as it sees fit.

An ICU overflow called “Care 2” will be mobilized with the shifted staff from the OR and various departments to support additional critical care patients. The Care 2 bed capacity is four.


"This is a constantly fluctuating and changing dynamic; after 1.5 years of this pandemic, we are nothing if not flexible, adaptable and agile to the needs of our community," Perez-Posadas said.

"I want to thank every single GMHA employee, who continue to show up, work hard and go above and beyond their regularly scheduled hours to support the sickest in our community. You truly are frontline heroes," she added.

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