Updated: Oct 13, 2021
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The government of Guam has taken the first step toward the construction of an integrated health care complex that will house a new hospital as well new facilities for public health and mental health offices.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Wednesday signed a bill authorizing a 40-year lease-back arrangement and pledging funds for the major project dubbed "Twenty-First Century Healthcare Center."
Bill 121-36, authored by Sen. Joe San Agustin, is now Public Law 36-56.
"Today, the proverbial can that’s been kicked down the road for years, ends here and with your signature, the heartbeat of our islands’ healthcare infrastructure will remain strong with the 21st Century Healthcare Center,” San Agustin said.
The proposed project will incorporate a medical facility that will replace the aging Guam Memorial Hospital, the Department of Public Health and Social Services and the Guam Behavioral Health and Welfare Center.
"As we have experienced firsthand this past year and a half, itis especially true in the worst of times, when, in addition to the diverse medical needs of our community, our island is struck by crisis and calamity," Leon Guerrero said.
Last week, Lilian Posadas-Perez announced that the Department of Navy is anticipated to grant the government of Guam by the the end of the year a license to use the Eagles Field property in Mangilao, the proposed site of the new health care facility.
"We have long known that we needed a new hospital," the governor said.
"Guam is home to world-classhealthcare professionals, and the continuedvitality of our community is a reflection of the high level of care and service these professionals have committed to provide," she added. "It is time that our facilities catch up to meet that same high standard, and empower our healthcare workers to do their best work."
Under the new law, the proposed project will be funded by a combination of local and federal funds, including $35 million from the revenues received Earned Income Tax Credit that will be available for fiscal 2022; an annual appropriation of $35 million from the general fund; and other federal grants that will be made available to Guam; as well as other financing options that include loans, grants and bond borrowing.
The governor has dedicated $300 million from the Armerican Rescue Plan for the project, which is estimated to cost $800 million.
Under the new law, the contractor/developer will also be responsible for the capital maintenance and repair of the Guam Twenty-First Century Healthcare Center until the property is reverted to the government of Guam.