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New hospital won't be seeing patients yet

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Courtesy: GRMC on Facebook Courtesy: GRMC on Facebook
While management from the island's newest hospital had hoped to start accepting its first patients as early as tomorrow, it appears that won't be the case. Guam Regional Medical City looks forward to announcing the start of patient services soon, according to chief executive officer Margaret Bengzon in a statement to KUAM News today.

It was earlier this month when the new hospital held a press conference announcing it would begin accepting its first patients toward the end of this month, the earliest of which was pegged at June 23, dependent however on the testing and certification on the hospital's systems.

"That's why I have a relative confidence talking about the dates," said the CEO. "I cannot talk about 100% certainty, because we want to be absolutely 100% sure that these systems, which are really going to define how safely and how well we take care of patients, work." Bengzon today says the hospital is still working with its local regulatory partners on final clearances, which they expect this week.

According to the Department of Public Works' building inspection and permits administrator Joe Guevara, while GRMC is going through the process, a final inspection has yet to be conducted in order to obtain an occupancy permit to begin seeing patients. He says prior to an occupancy permit, the hospital's as-built drawings need to be approved. These as-built drawings reflect all the change orders done to the project from the original plans.

Bengzon earlier this month noted the project was over budget by $20 million - not because of mistakes but because of additions to the hospital like a cardiac catheterization lab, hyperbaric chamber and a full blown electronic medical record system. Guevara says an application was submitted for the as-built drawings and is being reviewed by all the regulatory agencies. One of those regulatory agencies includes the Guam Fire Department.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Joey Manibusan, GFD is scheduled to conduct inspections on the extinguishing system and emergency elevator smoke detection on Tuesday. In the meantime, hospital does have a conditional occupancy permit which allows hospital staff to conduct training and move in equipment only. "Now we need to take it to the next step, which is get occupancy for patients," said Bengzon. "But we're only going to seek that like I said, and I'm going to say again, when we're absolutely sure that all the systems in the hospital work, and work perfectly and all the time."

GRMC had indicated they had hoped to start seeing only elective cases and opening the first three floors of the hospital once they get the final clearance by the end of the month. 
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