Strategem of Verbiage: Titanos manahak

August 2, 2018

 

 

The television newscast blares, “Petty politics at the heart of GMH controversy, says Adelup.”

 

 Almost in defiance of Governor Calvo’s press release, the Guam Memorial Hospital administrator wearily admits that the hospital is again in a state of fiscal emergency. GMH owes critical medical vendors more than $10 million in late payments that almost certainly will not be paid because its gargantuan payroll will again wipe out any of the hospital’s cash.

 

  If things couldn’t be more serious, the oxygen vendor has angrily placed a demand for immediate payment otherwise no further life-giving gas will be delivered. Shockingly, it is then revealed, the hospital’s central electrical control panel is facing total break down and no one can find the money to fix it. And then, almost like the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Government of Guam Retirement Fund reports that the GMH

administration owes more than $1.8 million, has been robbing its own senior employees of their pension benefits and is now exposing the hospital to retaliatory litigation. 

 

  A word to the wise politician, be careful what you call petty.

 

  The legacy of the Calvo/ Tenorio Administration is under fire. Last week, Federal Communications Commission officials blasted Guam’s Governor for diverting more than $4 million from the E911 fund since 2014 most likely to pay for a bloated government payroll. The FCC edict demanded that such fiscal corruption cease because Governor Calvo’s failure to protect the 911 system could lead to delayed emergency medical responses, greater public safety risk to Guam's citizens, and lower morale among emergency personnel.

 

  Finally, like a sledgehammer into the face of all things petty, the newscast reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has declared that it intends to cut off the hospital from millions of federal dollars because of Governor Calvo’s failure to successfully put GMH safety standards above payroll politics.

Finally, like a sledgehammer into the face of all things petty, the newscast reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has declared that it intends to cut off the hospital from millions of federal dollars because of Governor Calvo’s failure to successfully put GMH safety standards above payroll politics. 

 CMS inspectors found recently that GMH had a fire emergency plan that did not specifically require anyone to call the fire department. The CMS study also noted that the surveillance program that is supposed to monitor the hospital’s medical gas and vacuum systems was not working, which “increases the risk of death or injury due to fire.”  GMH officials identified the problem themselves lastJanuary, several payroll periods prior to the recent CMS inspection, but GMH did not fix it.

 

  The problem is fire and the fury that will result when a little spark bursts into flame. Our friend Dante reminds us that an unsafe GMH may indeed be the place where all hope be abandoned should an inferno enter there.

 

 Just five months ago, as South Korea spent millions of dollars to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, a hospital fire in the city of Miryang killed 50 people including 34 patients - mostly elderly women - and three medical staff in the country's worst fire disaster in a decade. The fire is being blamed on a defective electrical system that had not undergone a full inspection in 26 years.

 

  Last month, South Korean prosecutors indicted 12 people including hospital executives and government officials who were directly or indirectly responsible for the devastating inferno and deadly toxicgases which suffocated sick and dying patients in their hospital beds.

 

Read related stories

GMH in crisis

$5M windfall proposed for GMH

 

  After the fire was extinguished, scenes of despair and anger unfurled at a city gymnasium where a joint memorial altar was set up for the hospital victims, with anguished relatives sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at government officials who came to pay their respects.

 

 "My mother! Bring my mother back to life!" a young woman cried in front of the altar bearing a row of portraits of the victims and their name plaques surrounded by hundreds of white chrysanthemums.

 

 "My poor mother can never come back no matter what you say!" she shouted at visiting officials before collapsing on the floor.

  According to the World Health Organization, one of the critical considerations in the safety design for all hospitals is the prevention of fire, particularly with respect to the combustibility of construction and furnishing materials and the spread of fire and smoke. When difficult choices must be made, leaders and staff must focus on the “greatest good for the greatest number.”

 

 Local insurance company executives point out that the primary objective of the GMH administration has been to struggle to make payroll. Thusly, fire safety costs, electrical facilities maintenance costs, and critical medical costs have all been made subservient to the $10 million annual salary and benefits being invested in the 200 GMH employees who are unnecessary for essential hospital function.

 

 The GMH Mission Statement is to provide quality patient care in a safe environment not to be an employment agency for the Governor’s Special Project Coordinators. The great privilege given to those who fund GMH is the opportunity to serve our island’s sick and dying regardless of their ability to pay.

 

 GMH problems are not petty. Blaming GMH fiscal shortfalls on having to care for the poor is petty and cruel. In the words of John F. Kennedy, let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. To err is human. To blame someone else is petty politics.

 

Dr. Vince Akimoto practices Family Medicine at the American Medical Clinic. Send feedback to akimotovince@yahoo.com

 

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