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New hospital plans progress rapidly

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - With the increase in population over the next several years, the Guam Healthcare and Hospital Development Foundation is hoping that a new private hospital will provide more care to the people of Guam. The Guam Memorial Hospital is currently the only civilian hospital on island with mandates to treat patients regardless of their inability to pay.

Because not much money is being collected, GMH is finding it difficult to stay afloat. With the upcoming military buildup various individuals in the community felt the need to build a private hospital to benefit the people of Guam. Foundation chairman Peter Sgro says things are moving rather quickly for them. In fact, a team of off-island architects from Cleveland and Manila will be arriving on island next month.

"They have short listed as far down into three local architects who they would team with on a local level. I'm very pleased that the $80 million has been set aside as far as the investment for the private hospital. Right now they're in final discussions with preliminary approval for the financing of $120 million through an off-island bank," Sgro explained.

While the financial crisis made it difficult to obtain financing for this project, Sgro says things are looking up and that there's some light at the end of the tunnel. "There was some delay in the process because of the financial crisis that happened in America and having to shift for funds out of Asia. The architectural team decided to not just have one architect firm, there are going to be three now working on this project," he added.

With the team arriving on island, Sgro is hoping the group can expedite the design of the hospital, which will be built up north in Dededo. "Initially they were looking at a twelve-month period for a design. The lead architect is now looking at finishing the design within six months," added Sgro.

For now, the chairman says the Foundation is also happy to assist the Guam Memorial Hospital, which continues to wait for a loan to pay off its outstanding debt to vendors. The lack of money has forced the delay in services and shortage of supplies. The Foundation has been instrumental in helping GMH obtain items such as labor pain medication and adult diapers, to name a few.  Sgro says they're also reaching out to off-island groups to help out.

He concluded, "All of us have relationships outside of Guam who can help. The more that we can help our hospital, the better for all of us."

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