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Progress made at DOC regarding inmate healthcare

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It was a positive status hearing for the Department of Corrections as they provided District Court Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood with updates on their efforts to comply with the court's order to provide adequate medical, mental and dental care to inmates and detainees. Progress is being made at the Department of Corrections which has recently come under fire for the quality of health care inmates and detainees receive. But during Tuesday's status hearing in the District Court it was all positive as the prison has formulated a memorandum of understanding with the Guam Memorial Hospital and as of last Friday the hospital assumed full responsibility for the care of inmates and detainees.

GMH took over, after long time physician Dr. Raja Saad was removed because of issues with his license.

Deputy director Carla Borja said, "Ted Lewis from the Guam Memorial Hospital appointed Dr. Larry Lizama as our new medical director for the facility so what has been going on over the weekend is whenever there is a medical emergency, issue, question situation whatever it is they call GMH."

DOC told the court it now has access to a myriad of hospitalists, nurses and healthcare. In addition according to GMH administrator Ted Lewis as part of the pharmaceutical services they plan to implement the Pixus System, which will minimize errors in administering medication, and when it comes to the mental health of inmates and detainees Judge Gatewood looked at what progress was being made in suicide prevention and according to Borja the attorney general has hired Dr. Jason Perez as a consultant. "He is a mental health specialist that's his specialty he just came from the state of Alaska where he helped them come into compliance with their mental health treatment program in the prison system there," he said.

Perez is now looking at ways to improve the behavioral health program at DOC and has already provided two sessions of suicide prevention training to the staff. As for dental care there is a plan to build a dental suite at DOC and utilize dentists from the Department of Public Health and Social Services, but with all the good news Judge Gatewood did question the ability of the Department of Corrections to be able to pay for the services provided by the hospital. Lewis expressed that he is confident in the ability of doc to fund the services because to date DOC has already paid GMH $250,000. With improvements to health care at the prison making progress Judge Gatewood also wanted an update on the electronic locking system. Borja says that they are looking at a vendor and once the vendor and the government come together they will begin the project.

Judge Gatewood shared that she was pleased to see a renewed energy and ability for DOC, GMH and the Attorney General's Office to work collaboratively. The court has scheduled the next status hearing for October 14.

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