Divert status is ongoing challenge for hospitals
This week both Guam Memorial Hospital and Guam Regional Medical City entered divert status...and this has become an ongoing challenge for both hospitals.
"I think everybody knows what the solution is, of course we need to help GMH," noted GRMC spokeswoman Cindy Hanson. She told KUAM News that the hospital was on divert status as of Tuesday morning this week as a result of Guam Memorial Hospital reaching saturation. And Hanson says this has been an on and off situation for the last six weeks.
GMH Lillian Posadas explained the divert status at their facility, saying, "The divert status is only a two hour window to give our emergency room time for the doctors to say okay these patients are ready to be discharged or ready to go up to a room so that it opens up some beds."
When both GMH and GRMC are on divert, the ambulances are set up to begin going one to one at the Emergency Room locations, meaning GRMC takes a patient and then GMH takes the next patient.
Posadas says the reason for the recent overflow is, quite simply, "Primarily the patients that come in their conditions are so serious they need an intensive care bed. Primarily cardiac and respiratory conditions are what we are seeing."
GMH had multiple patients in need of cardiac monitoring beds, but the entire third floor had reached capacity, and lack of beds is not the only challenge, the hospital faces. "It's been tough," said Posadas. It's been hard on the nurses, they are working 12 hours and some of the nurses sometimes when they are off we have to call them in, if they can help out."
Lack of hospital personnel - that is the challenge Guam's healthcare faces entirely, specifically for GMH they have a shortage in critical care nurses and all together the hospital's latest report shows a vacancy rate of 15%.
Noticing these challenges, Health Committee chair Terese Terlaje says she was at the hospital the other day, saying, "In the ER waiting room and it was full and the people they were very sick so it is a very important issue. We have to address the nurses and also have to address the facility."
Senator Terlaje says the critical and most urgent component is the nursing shortage, but has also made the necessary facility repairs a priority. "We all know we need to improve the hospital or build a new one and of course take into account the growth and population," she said.
"It's always going to be a continued challenge right that we either have to build more, grow more as our population grows, so the facility I try to make that my priority to help GMH address their facility issues because regardless of what we do going forward build a new one or expand this one the existing facility has to serve our needs now and we have to take care of these patients they are critical."