Talks on Guam Memorial Hospital’s maternal child health renovation and expansion project turned into a blame game. 

“The lack of moving forward with this project was the legislature not giving us money for it,” said OBGYN Dr. Jonathan Sidell. 

The recent informational briefing should have been a celebration.

After several years of delay, the maternity ward, labor and delivery ward and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will finally be seeing an upgrade in phases over the next three years with an anticipated completion date of September 2027. 

It's an urgent upgrade for Deputy Assistant Administrator of Nursing Services Liezl Concepcion. 

“Have you seen our nicu facility? I’m not sure, have you been around our NICU? I wish you could see how little– that place is so tiny,” said Concepcion. “Instead of the tiny rooms that we have, we can actually allow family to be part of this birth, which is the most essential. It's important for the family to be part of that birth.” 

The hearing took a turn as senators shared their skepticism of the promised timeline.  

Dr. Sidell retorted that it isn’t the hospital’s fault. 

“You have every right to not agree, but you represent the public. You’re elected. You control the purse strings. There's no way GMH can be a functional hospital on the meager amount of money you give it,” said Sidell. “You can fire me. If there’s a doctor that wants my job right now, tell them tomorrow. You have a phone.”

Senator Joanne Brown did not hold back. 

“But we have every right to question. I mean we want to see this delivered as well because these issues have come up. But I’m not going to spend the time today to get into all the other internal politics of the hospital and how money is or is not being spent properly, because we can be here a whole week if we wanted to get into that,” said Brown. 

Speaker Therese Terlaje added the legislature always met their budget request, if not more. 

“We even tried to get them more money when they weren't even asking for it. So I take exception to you wanting to blame GMH’s entire fiscal state because the legislature doesn’t want to give it money. I think that's wrong. I don't know where you're getting all your information,” said Terlaje. 

It should be noted GMH is now the only hospital handling maternal and neonatal health.  

Meantime, GMH is expected to kick off the formal bid phase for construction services this August, complete procurement by November, award by December, and begin construction before the new year.