Senator says GMH priorities must be listed by administrators, not politicians
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
While the Guam Memorial Hospital's labor and delivery ward has been making headlines in recent weeks, the hospital administration has identified the facility's electrical system as its top priority.
Sen. Telo Taitague said GMH, not politicians, must decide what the hospital needs.
During legislative session last Friday, GMH Administrator Lillian Posadas told senators that repairing the hospital's electrical panel would "benefit the whole hospital and not just one section."
Taitague cosponsored a budget amendment with Speaker Therese Terlaje which allows Guam Memorial Hospital to prioritize $15 million in excess FY 2022 general fund revenues.
Funding may be used for capital improvement projects which include the electrical panel, generators and roof structure – or for the renovation of the labor and delivery ward.
Taitague said GMH is already authorized through P.L. 32-204 and P.L. 33-151 to seek financing of up to $9.2 million to fund labor and delivery ward improvements. The Terlaje-Taitague amendment responds to GMH’s intent to prioritize any new funding the legislature may appropriate in FY 2023 for much-needed facility repairs.
On Tuesday, Sen. Telena Nelson expanded an original amendment for GMH labor and delivery ward renovations and capital improvement projects from $10 million to $15 million.
"We are addressing the immediate needs of the labor and delivery ward. We've seen on the news and social media that the labor and deliveryward is in critical need of renovations," Nelson said.
'The original $10 million that was proposed would not be enough to fund the project, estimated at $13 million to $15 million to be completed," she added.
As for the electrical panel, Taitague cited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) April of 2020 report, which noted that "the fundamental components of the electrical distribution system are far beyond their reasonable lifespan – and the main switchboard and much of the other electrical equipment in the power plant area are over 40 years old."
The USACE estimated $761 million is needed to retrofit all of the infrastructures to meet current building code and hospital accreditation criteria including immediate correction of deficiencies in the architectural, electrical, fire protection, mechanical air distribution system, and other critical infrastructure. “GMH leadership has made it clear. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made it clear. The hospital’s electrical system – the same power distribution system that supports all sections of GMH – needs immediate attention. With his objection to this common-sense proposal, it’s a shame that Sen. Moylan doesn’t see the bigger picture. Accordingly, this amendment recognizes the decision to prioritize funding for GMH facility improvements rests with its leadership, not politicians,” Taitague said. “Unfortunately, we are still years away from providing our community with a new public hospital. In the meantime, repairs to our current hospital are urgently needed to ensure the safety and welfare of patients and the hardworking hospital staff who care for them every day," Taitague added.