Serious power bill for Guam Memorial - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Serious power bill for Guam Memorial

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Bills keep piling up for the Guam Memorial Hospital. If the agency doesn't pay its outstanding power bill, the Guam Power Authority may be forced to pull the plug on GMH.

With over $20 million in outstanding debt, the island's only public hospital is struggling to pay its vendors. First it was the agency's inability to pay vendors for supplies in materials. Today, it was brought to light that the hospital must pay $39,000 for its October bill by Friday or face disconnection.  According to Guam Power Authority spokesperson Art Perez, a payment of $70,000 was made last Friday with another $30,000 given to GPA on Monday.

"What GPA is going to do from now until then," he speculated, "we'll send some operations personnel to ensure that they're backup generator is operational and if payment is not made until this Friday by close of business, then by Monday they can expect a disconnection notice of electrical services to their facilities."

GMH is in a financial crisis, forcing the agency to deal with the resources they currently have. Today, Governor Felix Camacho says the financial state of GMH is nothing new and that it's very difficult for the hospital to collect. "We've tried many times to assist the hospital using General Fund monies beyond what they were appropriated to help meet payroll," he said. "In discussions with Lieutenant Governor Mike Cruz, he explained to me how difficult things were with supplies, even in the operating room."

Over the weekend, the Department of the Interior gave the green light to release a million dollars to cover vendor payments, but according to Camacho, Uncle Sam was even hesitant to help. "I have had discussions with Tony Babauta about reprogramming one million dollars to the hospital. Initially there was a lot of resistance," summarized the chief executive. "They said 'absolutely not' - they did not want to give it. But I said to them that if they can use this to buy the goods and supplies necessary, that it would be buy the hospital time to pay their longstanding accounts payable."

Last week, lawmakers passed Bill 479, which will allow GMH to borrow approximately $25 million to pay down existing debt. But according to the governor, it'll be difficult to convince banks that payments will be made to this loan.  "If they don't have the money right now to pay the vendors, and they don't have the revenue sources coming in, how are they going to meet their obligation to the bank or institutions? We've put it out there before. A line of credit. Nobody was interested," said Camacho.

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