By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed an executive order establishing Guam’s Health and Social Services Workforce Development Collaborative aimed at addressing the shortage of healthcare workers on Guam and the region specifically during disasters.
"The aftermath of Typhoon Mawar left Guam grappling with the physical devastation and the critical shortage of health and social services care professionals," the governor's office said.
The Governor's Health and Social Services Workforce Collaborative Summit recently convened to work towards addressing these challenges and laying a foundation for robust recovery efforts.
Participants included leadership from the Guam Community College, the University of Guam, Guam Memorial Hospital, Guam Regional Medical City, the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, the Department of Public Health & Social Services, the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, and the Guam Department of Administration, among others.
“Our founding members successfully birthed nine actionable projects to address critical public and behavioral health, social worker and healthcare workforce shortages,” Leon Guerrero said. “This collaborative marks a pivotal moment in Guam’s journey toward becoming the premier Health and Social Services Training Center for all of Micronesia, and our founding members and their respective organizations are committed to driving these initiatives forward in the forthcoming months.”
Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio added, “The momentum garnered during this summit promises a transformative future for Guam's health and medical care professions, laying the groundwork for a resilient and robust workforce poised to meet the region's evolving needs.”
Key objectives included a targeted increase in nurses, allied health workers, public and behavioral health professionals, and social workers graduating from Guam's institutes of higher education, a concerted effort to retain and build the resilience of the current health and social services workforce, an expansion of culturally competent healthcare workers across U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands, and the fortification of Guam's economy by nurturing local talent to fill high-paying medical roles.
The Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, Office of Community Mitigation and Recovery, is entrusted by FEMA with spearheading health and social services recovery initiatives post Typhoon Mawar, and identified the need for concerted action to bolster Guam's health and social services workforce, particularly amidst the compounding effects from Covid-19. In partnership with the Office of the Governor, ASPR led the organization of the Collaborative Summit, funded by FEMA.
The three-day event comprised strategic planning sessions, project ideation, and comprehensive roadmap creation for the future of health and social services workforce development in Guam and for the benefit of the broader USAPI.