Administration supports efforts to improve DepCor - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Administration supports efforts to improve DepCor

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo says he supports providing the necessary resources to address the concerns over at the Department of Corrections. And just as a status hearing continues tomorrow in the District Court over the state of medical, mental and dental care at DOC, the administration is also raising concern how the priorities of the feds may not be in line with what's best for the people of Guam.

Calvo says the agency has improved since the administration came into office nearly four years ago. "First of all, I would say with Mr. Saad, that he has our full support from our administration," he said.

This follows Tuesday's status hearing at the District Court with the US Department of Justice over the medical, mental and dental care at DOC. During the hearing, Dr. Saad raised several red flags taking place at DOC from the TB crisis to the daily struggle to meet minimal healthcare standards with being shortstaffed. He further believed that he was apprehensive to speak up on these concerns in fear he would be marked by his superiors. "We'll give him and the prison will give him the necessary resources for him to do his job so any of these statements that are being said, I think they're unfounded," he explained.

And just as Chief Judge Francis Tydingco Gatewood stated the state of healthcare at DOC sounded like a huge crisis based on the reports, the governor says its obvious we need to work on more. And just as he's willing to support the medical director, Governor Calvo says he hopes Dr. Saad continues to do his job and not threaten to curtail services.

"That's why we're hiring more nurses and Mr. Saad was ready to cut off services when he wasn't being paid and he wanted to be paid every two weeks we've actually worked with him unlike we are with other vendors where most vendors are paid once a month we're hopeful that Mr. Saad doesn't use this as some sort of political statement that he's making because we've worked with him we're getting him the nurses," he said.

And while the state of DOC is important, Governor Calvo says he wants to ensure that Guam law is followed as well and raises some concerns with federal authorities. Some concern and further reminds the federal authorities that much. "I think the important thing is to make clear to the court, to the federal government that this administration will do their best to improve the quality of life for those that are incarcerated in the prison but our top priority is for all the people of Guam and I want to make sure that we have the necessary resources," he said.

"What I'm a little concerned about too is the federal authorities is telling us what their priorities are and it may not be in line with what the top priorities with what are important for the people of Guam but be that as it may, we look forward to working in a constructive manner to improving the quality of the health conditions for those prisoners at DOC."

Calvo says when it comes to hiring certain professions, there is a process and payscale that needs to be followed and Guam can't be forced to pay three to four times the going rate simply because the feds say so. He adds recruitment appears to be an ongoing challenge. He ultimately hopes Dr. Saad and the federal authorities understand the unique circumstances of Guam's prison.
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