by Krystal Paco
Guam - It was earlier this week controversial Bill 19 lapsed into law and although it's receiving mixed reactions from island residents, the legislation will put the Guam Memorial Hospital on the road to financial recovery.
"We all want the same thing in the end we may not agree how to get there all the time but in the end we all want the same thing for GMH," said Joseph Verga, administrator for GMH.
After weeks of heated debate on Bill 19 and what its amendments could mean for gambling on Guam, Verga says in the end, all will benefit from its passage into law earlier this week as it provides revenues for the construction of an urgent care facility and some for operations.
"It's really going to benefit the people of the island in many, many ways. And 40% of that, those funds are going to be directed to operations and/or debts we're still quantifying how much that would somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.2 million if you took 60% of that, about $1.3 million will be allocated toward urgent care around $900,000 amounts to operations," he said.
Moving forward with implementing the new law, Verga must establish an urgent care planning committee within 30 days. 90 days after, the committee, to be comprised of members of the hospital and the community, must present their plan to members of the Guam Legislature and the governor.
He said, "The urgent care will be based here at the hospital it will be close especially with the new E.R. here almost scheduled to be completed - there is a section of the new E.R. allocated for urgent care so it will really be a great operation so someone who comes through the emergency room will see the triage nurse the nurse will assess will assess what's wrong with you and whether or not you're an emergency go that way and you're not an emergency go this way type of thing."
The end result? Reduced waiting time and reduced delays in care.
"We're very excited that we have the means to proceed to put this together. It's always been a part of my plan for GMH and a part of the strategic plan going forward," he said.
The good news doesn't stop there. Verga reports GMH recently received an increase in daily rates from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
"It's only $100 dollars a day," he said. "It will not cover our costs and not the increase that we're looking and we're still applying to receive. However, they recognize that both the improvement being done here at the hospital they realize the accuracy of our cost reports now and the accuracy of the information that they're getting from GMH much more so than they've ever received before."
The 6% increase means the hospital will now receive $1,100 per patient per day for those with Medicare.
Although it's not the $1,600 needed, Verga is optimistic as GMH continues to submit information to CMS to justify an increase.