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Mental Health still faces court order

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - Department of Mental Health then-director Dr. David Shimizu announced his resignation on Friday, sending waves through an agency already on rocky ground, amidst an amended permanent injunction and the possibility of a federal receivership.  Acting Governor Judi Won Pat says there were signs that Dr. Shimizu was frustrated when he approached her several weeks ago to discuss the resignation of the agency's legal counsel.

Shimizu was seeking the help of Won Pat, who was acting governor at the time to find an immediate replacement because of looming deadlines regarding the API.

"I wanted to declare an emergency there then so they could go out there and recruit someone," said Won Pat, "Mental Health was going to pay for it. But instead phone calls were made to the governor long-distance and so many other delays, nothing really ever happened to it."

But that emergency was never declared and the Attorney General's Office was forced to appoint attorney that could not be fully dedicated to Mental Health.  But newly-appointed Acting Director Elizabeth Cruz disagrees.  Cruz, who is also currently serving as assistant legal counsel to the governor, says Adelup did everything it could, considering its resources.

She said, "The governor's been very supportive and all the agencies, BBMR, as well as DOA have been assisting where they can. Of course, everyone knows the resources are limited and the governor has to be able to use his resources wisely but where he's been able to provide assistance to the agency, he has."

Cruz has been working with the department for two and a half years as the director of the office of community integration. She says she understands what needs to be done to help the agency comply with the court orders. But won pat fears that even the appointment of someone with as much familiarity with the agency as Cruz will not salvage the department in the eyes of Judge Consuelo Marshal. 

Said Won Pat, "It doesn't matter who they put in because its kind of right in the middle when the train is moving already full speed."

While Cruz says she'll continue to work with the department to comply with the judge's court orders, the resignation of Dr. Shimizu is no doubt a step backwards for a department already struggling with an uphill battle against receivership.

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