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New hospital will open later this month

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With major construction issues behind them, the island's newest hospital is preparing to open its doors later this month to begin seeing its first patients. It's "Where Patients Are Partners", and the new Guam Regional Medical City is ready to serve you soon.

"When is this allusive ambiguous soon? We're looking to fingers crossed, toes crossed, everything goes well before the end of the month," said chief executive officer Margaret Bengzon, she's confident in setting this date because major construction is basically completed. "Our main preoccupation and focus is systems," she continued. "The systems that make the hospital run efficiently, effectively and run safely for the patients."

Bengzon says the systems are installed and all that's left is doing testing and certification by local and federal authorities. "So we feel we're at the tail end of that process but we have to be absolutely, 100% or 1,000% - sure that these systems work and work all the time, so that's where we are," she added.

It was last month when the new hospital hit what they consider a "major milestone" as a conditional occupancy permit was issued by the Department of Public Works to allow staff to occupy the facility and install equipment. The facility consists of five-and-a-half floors: the Emergency Room facility and Urgent Care on the first floor; a critical care and operating room on the second floor; labs on the third, nursing units on the fourth; and a surgical suite on the fifth floor.

And while GRMC will offer an array of services and specialties, Bengzon says they will only proceed in a "phased sort of calibrated approach"- occupying the first to third floor for now. "But we're going to likely start with elective cases, so we're not going to open day one with an emergency room, but we'll start with scheduled elective cases and manage our operations then and slowly phase in as to we're as we're gaining confidence because the most important thing is patient safety," she stated.

Bengzon says elective cases, which include surgical, ophthalmology and urology, present a more controlled environment for the time being. And while this approach is part of airing on the side of being conservative, she does note the fourth and fifth floors should be open two to four weeks thereafter the first patient is seen.

In the meantime, Bengzon says the cost of the hospital did go over budget by 10%, however it's not because of any mistakes. "The project ended up costing more not so much because of wastage or duplication but actually because we ended up building a better hospital," the CEO explained.

The new cost is estimated at $240 million. And while much of the building is complete, Bengzon says that's only the staging area as a hospital is more about the people. The hospital is looking to employ 680 people, 410 of whom have already been hired. A majority of the openings that remain to be filled are nursing and ancillary services.

GRMC is targeting the date of June 23 to begin seeing patients at the new hospital.

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