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GMH's CT machine offline

by Krystal Paco

Guam - It's a piece of equipment that images soft structures in the body to help doctors make an accurate diagnosis. But the Guam Memorial Hospital's only CT scan is offline, leaving patients in need going elsewhere.

"We had several parts that went down at once," said Joseph Verga, administrator of GHM. "And of course we had to get them flown in from the mainland. Then there were shipped via the wrong route so there was a shipping delay that compounded the further delay, so they had to send a second set of parts which is really the reason for the extended delay."

And for the last week, instead of being transported to GMH, Verga says trauma victims were brought to Naval Hospital. As for inpatients in need of CT scans, they were referred to the island's community health centers.

For Verga, this an everyday reality - that it's not only the hospital facilities that are aging, but the equipment too.

"Much of the equipment is old and much of it has outlived its useful life. Although we keep it maintained and operational, it gets a lot of use. A lot of the equipment hasn't been replaced in years for financial reasons so there are numerous capital needs that need to be addressed of course given our financial situation that we have to prioritize where we spend our money," he said.

Verga says parts to repair the broken machinery are set to arrive today and tomorrow with the CT scan anticipated to be up and operational by Thursday.

"CT scans are another diagnostic modality. It can see soft structures inside the body. X-rays only show bones. CT scans and MRI show soft tissues and with different densities and there's different slices, they can get different slices, very detailed images from ct scans to make a diagnosis," he said.

According to committee chair on healthcare Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr., this should serve as a reminder that lawmakers need to commit to providing the hospital adequate resources. Although public law now provides additional funding for GMH by taxing gaming machines, it's not enough.

"This just shows us what is happening with our hospital. Is that our hospital knew that maintenance work on the CT scan needed to be done however their hands are tied. You know what kind of financial situation they're in. We're going to improve things at the hospital we see some money that's being set aside for the hospital," he said.

Meanwhile, Verga says GMH does plenty of preventative maintenance on hospital equipment and gladly accepts donations from the GMH volunteers who continue to fundraise to supplement the hospital's needs.

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