Health care in need of major overhaul - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Health care in need of major overhaul

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The transition reports related to health care agencies on the island have one similarity: get rid of the current management at the Guam Memorial Hospital, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Alleging incompetent management and a financial crisis that has put the Joint Commission's accreditation in jeopardy, the Subgroup Task Force for GMH, chaired by Joseph Cameron, has recommended sweeping changes. First, the governor would assume control of GMH and get rid of the current management team replacing it with an interim one.

"I'm not persuaded and convinced that it's due to management incompetence...it's a matter of cash flow. I don't know how many times it has to be said, but it has to be said. It's a cash flow issue," noted Lou Leon Guerrero.

The acting board chairperson and former senator, Leon Guerrero was extremely disappointed when she saw the transition report. She defends the GMH management team and board questioning how the hospital was able to obtain accreditation if the management was incompetent. She also stressed that GMH has received unqualified audits from the reputable accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche. 

Leon Guerrero says the law that took away one of GMH's three main sources of revenue saw government payments decrease significantly. Since that third funding source was restored in October, the board chair is confident the finances of the hospital will be in a better state within this fiscal year.

"If you have a crisis and you have a management to me, that is competent, you don't want to remove that management there that knows the process, knows the issues, is totally involved, knows what the solutions are working towards them in a crisis situation; because the worst thing you want to do is bring in new people in a crisis situation who doesn't [sic] know what to do in a crisis situation, particularly with GMH," she detailed.

The Transition Committee also provided a number of recommendations to improve the financial condition at the hospital. While a number of them have already been implemented, Leon Guerrero suggests a solution, telling KUAM News, "If the biggest payer, which is the government, would pay the services that are delivered, we would be in good shape."

The subcommittee meanwhile also had concerns with Mental Health and was especially critical of the federal management team and its plan of action. The report states that the Calvo Administration is capable of executing the approved plan instead of paying the team at least $30,000 a month. Additionally they believe the salaries of the consultants are exorbitant and proposed budgetary items are substantially inflated.

A severe lack of funding and a shortage of staff were the most significant findings of the transition subcommittee after reviewing the various divisions of the Department of Public Health. There were numerous examples cited of staffing requirements not being met with minimal positions being funded. The published report recommended the recruitment of a qualified chief public health officer and recruit information technology staff, among others.


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