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OPA details hospital audit

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - The Guam Memorial Hospital may have issued its audited financial statements before the deadline, but the audit findings show the hospital in dire financial straits. GMH is the only Government of Guam agency that won't turn anyone away, as spokesman Connor Murphy said the hospital, "has the mandate to treat any patient who needs to be treated regardless of their ability to pay.

"So if the community wants GMH to keep that up, the community needs to be supporting and giving the hospital the resources that it needs to sustain its mission."

It's that very mandate that Murphy says has contributed to the critical financial situation of the island's only civilian hospital. An audit released by the Office of Public Accountability is further evidence of GMH's cash crisis as revenue collections declined by 57%, resulting in operational losses of $12 million. GMH also ended the last fiscal year with $12.4 million less in net assets than the previous year.

Murphy says GMH will continue to operate in the red until patients start paying for the services they receive. "We are seeing more patients who are uninsured. We're seeing self paid patients. We're seeing patients who are unemployed. Those patients naturally are very hard to collect from. Sometimes those bills go unpaid. So we also have some unpaid bills from the Government of Guam. People like DOC inmates, police patients and things like that. That's more than $2 million we're waiting on there," he explained.

The hospital continues to spend more than it takes in, with personnel costs accounting for more than 64% of GMH's total $105 million operating expenses. Officials told auditors the increase in personnel from 948 in 2009 to 1,063 was mostly due to recruitment that was required for accreditation.

Meanwhile, the hospital submitted its response with the Joint Commission last Friday on its current financial situation. The Commission has expressed concerns about the quality of care being provided to patients in light of recent pharmaceutical and supply shortages.

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