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New hospital moves ahead with construction

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's been over a month since the Guam Regional Medical City's qualifying certificate application was approved by the GEDA board and nearly a year since it was first submitted. That hasn't prevented the new hospital from moving forward with construction and reaching closer to completion.

It's been a long road for the Guam Regional Medical City to obtain its qualifying certificate that now just awaits signature from the Attorney General's Office and the governor of Guam. President and CEO Margaret Bengzon said, "Obviously we're very grateful and gratified that this process is moving forward and moving forward successfully and obviously we're very focused now on getting the hospital up and running and operating for the people of Guam, which is really the important part of this process."

And close to a year since the QC application was first submitted, the GEDA board approved the QC request just last month that will allow GRPC 75% income tax rebates for 20 years, 100% real property tax abatement for 10 years and 75% corporate dividend tax rebates for five years. So should all the proper signatures fall into place, what's next?

"We receive the QC benefits, there's a compliance requirement that we need to attend to every year to make sure we're following the requirements as prescribed by the QC contract and that's all that progresses," she added.

Part of the requirement is an annual contribution that includes for the first year $500,000, $750,000 in the second and by the eleventh to the 20th year will be $1.4 million.

As for the actual hospital itself, anyone who's driven by the site in Dededo lately can see it progressing quickly as Bengzon says about 65-70% it is complete. "And the focus for the next months is the interiors partitioning and finishing the hospital interiors and fitting it out and commissioning the hospital for operations - that's going to be our preoccupation for the next 8 to 10 months," she explained.

With respect to operations, she says management is occupied with recruitment of physicians from off-island along with engaging physicians on island so they can begin to work together in getting the services up and running. She further adds a job fair will be held in the coming months as well. "Coming into April, May, June we'll be actively recruiting for the allied medical and admin positions," she said.

She adds the new hospital is also working to set up systems, policies and procedures to ensure they're able to deliver services at the level the people of Guam deserve. Bengzon in the meantime says the QC process hasn't hindered the hospital from moving forward saying just getting it up and running is the biggest challenge which she says is still on track to open between September and October this year.

She said, "We're very grateful for all the support we've received from the community, we know that it's very broad based and very deep and very broad and we're absolutely committed to getting this hospital up and running and delivering the services the people of Guam deserve."

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