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GMH pushing for urgent healthcare center

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - An estimated 1,800 patients are released from the Guam Memorial Hospital emergency room every month, a number that could decrease once an urgent healthcare center is established.

"I'm hoping that once we start this we can see those numbers reducing at ER from 1,800 we go to 1,200, and if that actually happens, we're achieving one of our major goals," said Gordon Mizusawa. As a member of the Urgent Healthcare Center Planning Committee, Misuzawa, GMH's chief of environmental services, is one of the dozen of healthcare professionals who have to first decide where to put such a facility as provided through Public Law 32-60 passed earlier this year.

GMH administrator Joseph Verga says committee members toured both potential sites last month. "That will kind of drive the operational aspect. It will drive the staffing. It will drive the budget. All of that, and so there's kind of thoughts that this should be separate - two options on the table: one operating it within the old ICU here, kind of separate from ER. And another recommendation is to make it in the ER annex or as part of the ER facility when the whole thing is completed," he said.

Member Chuck Tanner said, "If you put it there, it's going to confuse patients. If you have it separate, it's its own separate identity. It's its own separate management, its own separate everything."

Meanwhile, Dr. Felix Cabrera says there's another option on the table, explaining, "What's wrong with an ER fast track? If the urgent care serves as that its still within the intent of the law and decongests what we're complaining about and what we're worried about. And so I feel like I'm on the fence about where it should be but I'm leaning toward it still being in the ER annex. Just because logistically it makes sense."

But members can agree on one thing - they're concerned about residents abusing an urgent care facility for primary care.

Assistant nurse administrator Jemma Simbillo told KUAM News, "This is not going to be your primary physician. This is there to help between the clinic and the ER. One, its going to cost less. It has to cost less. That decision do we charge do we not charge, that's something that needs to be hashed out. It's going to help to decrease the burden on the ER and save it for true emergencies and at the same time its going to help to streamline all these frequent fliers and try to place them where they really belong."

Verga says members will vote on the urgent care facility location at their next meeting scheduled for October 15th and finalize plans by January 2014.

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