GMH oversight hearing targets better patient care - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GMH oversight hearing targets better patient care

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - 2011 was a tough past year for Guam's only public hospital, but with three weeks already into 2012, officials are moving forward with taking the necessary steps to better patient care at GMH.

At the Guam Memorial Hospital just this afternoon Governor Eddie Calvo announced the expansion of the Emergency Room and Critical and Intensive Care Unit. And although the news brings a sigh of relief to GMH for GMH, the hospital is dealing with a multitude of problems from finding an administrator to citations by JACHO and CMS. And while we wait on word from the board and management on the progress of these problems at tonight's oversight hearing, here's a look at what's in store for the people of Guam.   

For many who have had to wait for a room or bed at the emergency room, those countless hours worrying if you or your loved will be given quality patient care have more to look forward to. Governor Calvo approved the formal contract to start the process to expand the Emergency Department and Critical and Intensive Care Unit at GMH. Calvo experienced firsthand what hundreds of island residents have had to endure and hopes this expansion provides a remedy.

"Every time I have gone to the emergency room and a lots of times it was with my kids and most recently before Christmas, there was an overflow and that was on a slow night; what we're hearing here is there's going to be an expansion, an expansion of space, of beds and not only of the emergency room and the critical care unit two areas where there is overflow in demand," he said.

The design-build capital improvement project is valued at approximately $7.56 million and expands the emergency department from its existing 5,400 square feet to approximately 15,000 square feet with the CCU-ICU expanding from its existing 2,539 square feet to 7,870 square feet. GMH acting administrator Rey Vega says although the hospital is dealing with a list of problems, expanding the emergency room was a priority the hospital had to fix.

"By the nature of it, the emergency room should be ready at all times and we've seen over crowding there because of the size from 5,400 to 250, so we're going to see some efficiencies," he said.

Having served over 400 CCU/ICU patients last fiscal year, the plan calls for expanding from a 10-bed unit to a 15-bed unit to include two isolation rooms and most rooms increasing in size to approx. 200 square feet, as opposed to the existing 120 square foot rooms. The emergency department will have two state of the art trauma rooms, two multipurpose isolation and decontamination rooms, twelve state of the art monitored examination stations amongst several other additions.

Meanwhile during this evening's oversight Committee on Health Chair Senator Dennis Rodriguez says from the hospital having to close down its hemodialysis outpatient services to proposing a 32-hour workweek, he hopes the financial challenges and several other issues plaguing the hospital will finally be resolved as we start this new year. He expects to hear a plan regarding the hospital's accreditation status- an issue most pressing for him.

He said, "I think we've expended so many resources, so many time and effort to get it where its at today and its imperative that we know that the hospital will strive to maintain to keep its accreditation. We're looking at what they're strategic plan is, there's also talk about austerity measures and their 32-hour workweek that they plan to implement; these are things that I would like to know about it and I'm sure the public would like to know, and more importantly with this oversight it will give the opportunity for the employees here who hear whispers about it the details of these plans."

The GMH board meanwhile will meet on Thursday evening where they will discuss administrator position, which according to chairman Lee Webber, no one has applied for yet.

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