By Pacific Island Times News Staff
At the height of typhoon Mawar, Mary Grace Libo-on, a hospital executive, was trapped in her bathroom for 12 hours until a rescue team from Guam Regional Medical City came to board up her shattered windows. She lost her home and car during the storm.
Libo-on, director of care management and coordination at GRMC, is among the typhoon-displaced employees who have taken shelter at the Dededo hospital while awaiting utility restoration and recovery.
“For employees like me, who suffered catastrophic losses during this typhoon, GRMC has become our refuge,” she said.
“I could go on and talk about all the things we were offered by GRMC, but the most striking and important thing is that we [show] compassion in a time of loss and pain, and we lived up to our mission: to treat and care for our patients and their family members as we would a beloved family member. We all treated one another as a family member would.”
GRMC has also arranged for representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist staff in the hospital’s lower lobby for those who need to apply for aid.
Since Guam’s return to Condition of Readiness 4 on May 25, GRMC said it provided shelter for its employees whose homes were destroyed or deemed unlivable due to excessive flooding or loss of power and water. Staff were provided with cots, blankets, and disposable pillows in designated sleeping areas throughout the hospital.
Shortly after the typhoon, family members were welcome to utilize the hospital’s lower lobby designated facilities to shower and charge their devices. GRMC Human Resources Generalist Kimberly Eleco said, “I appreciated that GRMC welcomed our employees’ families, to include my own immediate family, in using the shower facilities during a time the island needed it the most.”
Other resources, such as ice and self-service laundry machines, were also made available. Staff volunteers would pre-package gallon bags of non-consumable ice and distribute them at the end of each day to staff in need. A washer and dryer were purchased by the hospital’s morale team for staff to do their laundry during their scheduled hourly slot.
GRMC’s Human Resources (HR) team acted quickly in ensuring staff were provided support in any way possible. Staff were immediately able to avail solo or group counseling services at the hospital from community partners, International Health Providers (IHP), and local counselor, Risha Aguon, for those who experienced any trauma or emotional distress as a result of the typhoon.
The HR team also worked with the Marketing & Communications department in initiating a donation drive, from June 5 to 16, to help aid staff with basic necessities such as non-perishable, unexpired food and toiletries, bedding and clothes in new, unopened, or clean and gently used conditions.
Rachel Juliatti, a registered nurse with GRMC’s Emergency Department, said she had never experienced a typhoon before.
“[Typhoon Mawar] was not a happy experience, but I feel grateful that I had the support that I needed," said Juliatti, a native of Brazil.
Diana Masga, GRMC ED Unit secretary, suffered major damage to her home, which made it unlivable for her and her son.
She said she spoke to her department manager, GRMC ED Manager, Ray San Nicolas, who worked with the HR department to find living accommodations for her and her son at a hotel for a few days, while she awaited the status of FEMA’s assistance.
San Nicholas also helped place her on the list to be contacted for self-laundry services at the hospital. Masga said, “We cannot believe the amount of assistance we have already received since the typhoon. Words are just not enough to express the gratitude, heartfelt relief, and comfort from [GRMC] and my [ED] manager!”
"As the island remains in a state of emergency, GRMC will continue to provide these accommodations and utilize the best of its resources to support its staff during these challenging times," the hospital said.