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Free ultrasounds raise awareness about GMH funding

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - Expectant mothers filled the office of Senator Rory Respicio overflowing into the public hearing room and Legislative Hall. The reason: Obgyn doctor Thomas Shieh is offering free ultrasounds in an effort to raise awareness for the need for renovations to be made at over two decade old Labor and Delivery Ward at the Guam Memorial Hospital.

Rolani Cruz, who is five months pregnant, said, "All my kids are delivered c-section so just to be at GMH its really, really just kind of saddening to be there because there is just basically no upgrade there's no light it feels like you are in a jail."

Dr. Shieh has been pushing for renovations to the L&D Ward for several months. It was back in April that senators took a tour of the facility and expressed their support in identifying funding to make the renovations happen. But in a letter dated August 25 Shieh wrote to Governor Eddie Calvo "Please allocate $4 million to help babies and moms to be at GMH labor room. They are priority if you care please modify your budget at 1:30pm today its never too late. Someone please, please make that amendment and move it forward."  The issue however was not discussed on session floor today.

According to Speaker Judi Won Pat although the executive and legislative branches support making renovations more time is needed to get the numbers in order. Won Pat said, "Making sure that we stay within our debt ceiling what options are available in terms of how this is going to move forward but more importantly is the identification of a funding source that will become a debt obligation for the government."

Won Pat says she has already identified a funding source but would not say what that source was until they are sure no other bills would compete with that funding. She says an amendment would give just under one million dollars and what they are looking at now is the $4 million Shieh was requesting adding that unlike appropriations this would be more of an authorization to go out sell and buy bonds committing the government to a loan for 30 years.

For mothers like Rolani, it's a worthwhile investment. "I really do support this movement towards upgrading the delivery room because when every mom delivers they want to delivery in a peaceful nice surrounding and that's what I want," she said.
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