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GMH hopeful loan will cover costs

by Michele Catahay

Guam - While the Guam Memorial Hospital waits to receive money from a loan to pay its outstanding bills to vendors, it's apparent that GMH continues to struggle with services. Just last week, Guam Memorial had suspended hot food services offered to visitors and employees.

But today, according to associate administrator for operations Joe Mesa, they have enough cash to get those services back up and running by Wednesday. "We've taken care of the vendor and we've talked to our dietary people and they will begin that on Wednesday," Mesa explained. "I believe the start of last week - the challenge was that the patients had their food but the hospital does, we also have a cafeteria that cooks food at a price also to our visitors. So that's what was suspended."

For the past several weeks, GMH has struggled to provide services such as these, but according to Mesa, they're getting money in very slowly, but definitely not fast enough. "A number of people have paid their bills. There were probably some from Medicare also and MIP and so forth," he added. "So that comes in a daily basis at times and we encourage everyone to pay their bills. We probably wont have enough but we'll have enough to sustain."

While the Guam Economic Development Authority along with GMH's board of trustees have approved the use of a loan to cover payables for the agency, Mesa says they're waiting for Bill 503 to be signed by the governor before moving forward. The legislation added a new section to a law relative to expanding the borrowing ability of GMH, by including the authorization to enter into revolving loan funds and direct loans.

He speculated, "That $12 million will at least give us some breathing room to get our payables down to a more manageable process. Our vendors will than deliver and we can stock more so we can take care of our pharmaceuticals and stuff like that."

As for whether the beefing up of collection efforts has helped the hospital collect from patients, Mesa says it just isn't enough to cover all its debt. "Apparently this is a rough time especially during the holidays and if you only have a dollar, it can only go so far. We're getting some from our collection agencies and we have also a lot of people coming in to try and work out a payment plan," he said.

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