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GMH offering joint replacement

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Guam Memorial Hospital is now offering joint replacement eliminating the need to travel off-island for the elective procedure. GMH is offering a new service called the Joint Replacement Program. In the past patients who were in need of a hip replacement or a new knee would need to travel off-island to undergo the outpatient procedure.

Hospital administrator Joseph Verga said, "This is a state of the art program that is going to begin probably the second week of June training is in progress."

According to Verga the program is being over seen by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ruben Arafiles, he says it was Arafiles' vision to implement this program adding that there was really no investment from GMH. "We are getting state of the art implants donated to us to get us started we are getting the OR equipment that are necessary to put the implants in also donated to us," he explained.

Verga says it really a question of having the staff trained to use that equipment and trained for rehabilitation treatment. "Now, we do have a rehab department and with new knees and hips folks need to come back for their rehab and they'll be able to come back here for their rehab as well," he said.

According to Verga this is the first time joint replacement is being offered on Guam making it easier for patients as they no longer need to travel and can now focus on their recovery and therapy.

Verga says the hospital is excited to implement this service as it will bring new revenue and add to services offered that will keep patients on island. The only question is since this is a new service is it covered under insurance? According to Verga they have informed private insurers of the new service and are exploring the level of possible reimbursement from the government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and MIP. However, because this is an elective procedure coverage may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

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