Concept for privatizing veteran's hospital in the works - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Concept for privatizing veteran's hospital in the works

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - It is no secret that health care on our island especially for our veterans is in need of improvement and a concept for privatizing a veteran's hospital is in the works.     

One out of every eight members of our community has served in the military and each year the number of veterans in our community rises and as veteran numbers increase the facilities in place which take care of their health needs has become too small. Guam and Regional Health Care Council chairman Peter Sgro told KUAM News, "With the new naval hospital there is only 42 beds it's not the fault of the Navy it's what Congress gave them that's all they had but it's really never been the obligation of the Navy to care for veterans it should be Veteran's Affairs and based on the lower number of beds there is only one psychiatrist dealing with PTSD there is specialized needs different from the other population in terms of health care for our veterans."

The Council has come up with a concept to improve health care for Guam veterans and veterans in the region as they envision a veteran's center of excellence which would include a veteran's hospital, veterans behavioral center and a larger veteran's clinic. In addition they are also working on air evacuation transportation for veterans in need of off island medical treatment. As it stands if a veteran is in need of air evacuation for medical reasons they rely on Andersen Air Force Base and that can cost up to $300,000.

The group is hoping to break ground within the next four years using private funding, with Sgro adding, "We already have investors willing to do this and also the operations and management we also have a management group with over fifty years experience in developing and managing hospitals they actually own and operate 120 hospitals throughout the world."

Sgro says that by having a management group with this type of experience the quality of the care that will be offered at the VA medical facilities will be top notch. He says that former assistant secretary of the Navy BJ Penn is their advisor and will be talking to members of Congress. Sgro adds that there will come a point where they will want to take 100 veterans to Washington, DC as it could take congressional approval to make their concept a reality despite that it will all be privately funded. In fact he says they have already begun discussions with the Hawaii-based Veterans Affairs Office and will be traveling there in ten days to present the concept.

A concept he believes Hawaii and the San Francisco Veteran's Affairs Offices are interested in. Here on the homefront Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo says she is in full support, saying, "Right now the climate in Congress the US Congress is to do everything we can to help the veterans there has been stories you know that they haven't been treated well with healthcare finding jobs and some of them are homeless even so the climate couldn't be any better to be able to work on something like this a hospital Guam for a veteran's hospital."

She adds that she is trying to obtain funding for the expansion of the veteran's clinic. Bordallo says she will be helping in whatever way is needed. However admits that there are a lot of challenges ahead but it will fill a very necessary need. 

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