The old hospital at Ypao Point
Updated: Nov 22
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Currently pending in the 37th Guam Legislature is Sen. Chris Barnett’s bill seeking to end the debate on the site of a new Guam hospital. The bill proposes to designate Tamuning as the project site. And with that proposal, Oka Point, also known as Ypao Point, is the default location.
Located near the cliff on the west end of Guam, Oka Point is bounded by cliffs dropping off to sea level. Except for Hilton Resort and Spa, the surrounding area is generally residential. The real estate in question was valued at $19.3 million in 2013, and is currently seen as a potential use of commercial or hotel activity conducive to its size and location.
Oka Point has been parceled, creating Lot No. 5173-1-R2NEW-7, which is proposed as the Chamorro National Shrine and the Reinterment of Ancestral Remains.
In a 2018 environmental site assessment report, EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc. traced the history of Oka Point, which was the previous location of the old Guam Memorial Hospital.
According to the EA report prepared by geologist Robert P. Shambach, the first recorded use of Oka Point was in 1909 when it was used as a coconut plantation owned by Don Lorenzo de Leon Guererro y Manalisay.
In 1952, GMH was built as a residential nursing school. Two years later, the main hospital structure was built. It mainly served as a tuberculosis hospital until the introduction of new medicine that led to a reduction in TB patients, The TB hospital was then converted into a general hospital.
During the conversion process, the government of Guam expanded the facility by constructing two more buildings. Because GMH was built on a piecemeal basis, it failed to meet the building code and the minimum fire safety requirements established in 1973 by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Hospitals.
In 1968, GMH started planning to remodel and build a new hospital. However, the Department of Health Education opposed the remodeling plan due to the numerous building code violations.
Typhoon Pamela destroyed the walls and ceilings of the hospital facility including blowing away the air conditioners and windows in 1976.
The master plan to build a new GMH facility was accepted in 1973.
The following year, a new hospital was created in its current location. “The exact date of the old GMH demolition is unknown but happened around the 1990’s. Significant data gaps exist regarding the demolition of the old GMH,” the EA report said.
“Even after the demolition of the old GMH, there are 14 housing units that still exist on the western boundary of the subject site. Those houses are abandoned and covered by vegetation. After the time Typhoon Pongsongwa had hit Guam, the site became used as a transition station for typhoon debris,” EA said.
Around 2010, Younex used the site as a staging area for the construction of the Jonestown Tower project.
Phase I of EA’s assessment concluded, that there were “no recognized environmental conditions identified at the site” other than the debris.
At a recent oversight hearing at the legislature, environmental officials announced that the debris cleanup was anticipated to be completed on Nov. 1.