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Hospital employees rally in support of funding

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It was a full house at the Guam Legislature this morning as dozens of hospital employees rallied in support of more funding for the hospital.

Hospital employees sent strong messages to lawmakers this morning.

Holding signs reading "Great Money Hurdles", "Hay Pay for GMHA," and "Great Medical Care Here" - it was clear what hospital employees want and that's more financial support.

GMH administrator Joseph Verga said, "I do want to be very clear and of course our employees are asking us about the hay money and unless we receive any new funding to absolutely implement this, we cannot afford to implement this. We did not write this in the budget. We just cant afford it from our cash flow."

With close to $5.5 million needed to implement the Hay plan to hospital employees, GMH chief financial officer Alan Ulrich says they're forced to play "catch up" to meet new mandates.

"We significantly underestimated the cost of the merit and the increments. We had put $2 million in the budget. It's actually going to be over $3.6 million. And that doesn't include, once the salary freeze is gone, the three and a half percent that are paid in increments to people when they reach their anniversary date," he said.

With the anticipated implementation of Calvo's Hay plan by Valentine's Day, Ulrich estimates they'll need $200,000 more per pay period.

Of that figure, he notes that for every dollar in salary paid, the hospital is obligated to pay 30-percent to the Retirement Fund.

"Let's say its $200,000 more per payroll. The cost for the merit and the increment alone, the increment is $125,000 per payroll, which we've not budgeted nor do we have appropriations to cover that. So right that, the total of that is $375,000 every two weeks," he said.

But that's not all of the hospital's financial woes as Ulrich says there's still $75 million in receivables they're waiting on from the Department of Revenue & Taxation. With collections sitting dormant, he says they'll need the assistance of a collection agency.

And if financial woes weren't enough, GMH is already feeling the strains of the up and coming Guam Regional Medical City slated to open doors in Dededo later this year, a concern Healthcare Committee chair Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. hopes hospital officials can better plan for.

"You talked about how 25-30% of our good payers going over there. That's a concern I have. I don't know if it's a concern for the hospital, too, but also a concern with the new hospital, is that our people from the hospital are being recruited over there. So these are things that need to be addressed and see what is being done. If we start competing for the same resources for the same resources, the same patients, that's going to be bad for them, bad for us. We started that but its very hard to predict that's the reason we can give you a number, but can't be held to its accuracy," he said.

Hospital officials are slated to meet again in coming weeks for a followup oversight hearing.

Meanwhile, Senator Michael San Nicolas says he will address rev and tax about more efficient collection efforts on behalf of the hospital at a later oversight hearing.

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