New hospital finally opens in Dededo - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

New hospital finally opens in Dededo

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After months of construction delays, the Guam Regional Medical Center is finally open, being the first privately-run hospital built in Guam in almost 40 years. It's presence is a huge new addition to the local healthcare industry.

Archbishop Anthony Apuron offered a blessing, and the opening ceremony was set off by the huge artwork by Judy Flores that hangs in the lobby. CEO Margaret Bengzon said says the Guam Regional Medical City is launching more than just a new hospital, it is launching she says a new model of care for Guam. She added GRMC doctors will consult much more directly with patients, so that patients can take full or better charge of their own healthcare.

"So we talk about the providers being the experts in their field, but the patient being the experts in their life. And both needing to come together, both needing to come together as equal partners in the achievement of the health goals of the patient," she explained. The much-delayed opening of the hospital resulted in a $20 million cost over-run. Initial projections were pegged at $220 million, but construction costs ended up, says Bengzon, at $240 million.

"There were some situations where cost did go over because of waste, or because of duplicate efforts, or because of mistakes, but for the most part its really because we end up with a better hospital," she said in assessment. "So if you think about, in the grand scheme of things, a ten percent over-run just about, and ending up like I said with a better hospital, is actually I think a pretty good accomplishment."

The GRMC is just the second private hospital for Guam. The first was built in the late 1970's - the Medical Center of the Marianas - but it was short-lived, was bought out by the government-and the facility taken over by the current Guam Memorial Hospital. GMH is a public facility, subsidized by tax dollars. A just released public auditor's report highlights again the chronic financial problems of the agency.

But GRMC is a private business that needs to make money. The question for years has been does Guam have the scale -the patient base - to support a private hospital? Bengzon said, "We're looking to a network concept that will involve the other jurisdictions, so we're looking at Micronesia as outpatient base, so that extends the catchment area. And that extends the potential population that we will serve."

"Our business model is driven around the fact that there is demand for specialty care, that specialty care is currently going off-island, and that specialty care will now be able to stay on-island through the Guam Regional Medical City."

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