Senator eyeing private facility as temporary site for Guam hospital
Updated: Nov 8
Adelup nixes short-term solutions, maintains focus on new construction
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Medical Arts Center, a three-story building adjacent to Guam Regional Medical City in Dededo, could offer a temporary relocation site for Guam Memorial Hospital pending construction of a new medical facility, Sen. Jesse Lujan said.
"My staff and I identified the Guam Medical Arts Center as a potential alternative,” Lujan said after his tour of the private facility along with Sen. Chris Duenas. “The infrastructure is already there and it has the capacity to hold 60 to 120 beds.”
The Medical Arts Center, a $25 million building, was built on a 50,000-sq.ft. property owned by Guam attorney Cesar Cabot to complement the facility needs of GRMC. It was designed to house doctors' offices, hospice care, senior care facilities, a hemodialysis center, a pharmacy, diagnostic and therapeutic service clinic.
"We are still in the exploratory stage with the landlord and potential operating managing partner for the hospital," Lujan said.
The administration, however, is not keen on the senator's proposition.
"We do not support this option. There are too many unknown details associated with this plan on top of being an added cost to our taxpayers that we do not need to get into at this time," said Krystal Paco-San Agustin said.
She added that the administration's focus remains on the construction of a medical complex for Guam which includes a new hospital.
"Immediate financial support has been given to the Guam Memorial Hospital to address its immediate needs and to support the staff and patients, however, we are aiming to provide our island with a long-term solution," Paco-San Agustin said.
"If Sen. Lujan and Sen. Duenas are concerned with the timeliness of a new hospital for our island’s residents, consider how quickly a bipartisan effort would yield the results that we all want," she added.
The administration is urging the senators to support Bill 184-37, which would authorize the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission to negotiate the sale or lease of crown lands identified by the governor as the site of a new hospital.
Quick action on the bill, Paco-San Agustin said, would direct "focus on the swift construction of a new medical complex for Guam."
Currently, GRMC occupies the entire second and third floors of the Medical Arts Center. However, Cabot has sued GRMC over the nonpayment of rent.
Lujan said Cabot made a presentation before the senators and that he was convinced the facility could help alleviate the patient load from GMH and provide additional support and services to the island.
Recent public hearings revealed the fast-deteriorating condition of GMH.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero maintained that investing in the construction of a new medical facility is more practical than renovating GMH.
Planning for a new hospital, however, is stalled by a debate over the project site.
Lujan said waiting for a new hospital can’t be the only option and decided to start looking for alternative options or short-term solutions.
"No one is denying that we need a new hospital. But we can’t just wait for the new hospital to be built," Lujan said. noting that building a new hospital could take five to 10 years.
“We need to continue providing healthcare services to our people. But we also know GMH needs more support and resources. We need a solution now, or an interim solution while we wait. And I think I may have found it," the senator said.
“This doesn’t have to be the permanent solution. But this is a solution. Again, the infrastructure is there with all the plumbing in place, and the capacity to provide hospital services to our people. Depending on how we utilize it, the facility could start receiving patients in six to twelve months. The Government of Guam should look into using this facility for an immediate-term option. I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t,” Lujan said.
(This article has been updated to include the administration's comments.)