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Surviving on Guam: Health and Medical


The Government of Guam maintains the island's main health care facility, Guam Memorial Hospital in Tamuning.[55] U.S. board certified doctors and dentists practice in all specialties. In addition, the U.S. Naval Hospital in Agana Heights[56] serves active-duty members and dependents of the military community.

        Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? The good news? Well, the good news is that Guam has no malaria, no rabies, and no mysterious and horrible tropical diseases such as yellow fever, sleeping sickness and so on. Occasionally a case of dengue fever turns up, but as I understand it, the afflicted people seem to have caught it off-island. There is a certain incidence of leprosy among the immigrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, which you may be in danger of catching if you get intimate with someone who has an active, untreated case. The worst public health problem here is tuberculosis, and that problem is world-wide. There is also a high incidence of diabetes here, as well as a high rate of teenage pregnancy. (The first American baby of the year 2000 was born here on Guam to a fifteen-year-old girl.) But this is supposed to be the good news part. 
    The other good news is that there are a lot of world-class doctors working on Guam. Of Dr. Tablante, the eye surgeon, one friend of mine said that even if he lived in Massachusetts, he would fly back to Guam to have eye surgery from Dr. Tablante if he ever needed it again. 
    The bad news? First of all, there aren't nearly enough doctors to serve the population of Guam. If you need to see a gynecologist or other specialist, you make your appointment three months in advance. The clinics run mostly on a walk-in basis combined with appointments. Either way, you may wait two hours to see your doctor, and at some of the large factory clinics, you may never see the same doctor twice. 
    More bad news: there aren't enough technicians to run medical equipment such as mammogram equipment. It's hard to get scheduled for one. And Guam has a shortage of the equipment itself. Even when you do manage to get tested, the results often take a long time to come back, if they ever do come back. Most analyses have to be performed off-island. 
    Updated good news: the civilian hospital, Guam Memorial Hospital, is now accredited. If you are in the military, however, there is an accredited naval hospital. Recently conditions at Guam Memorial Hospital have gotten much worse as medical supplies become scarce and more of the experienced nurses have left for better jobs elsewhere. The hospital is suffering such a severe shortage that they've had to close infant ICU and limit surgery ward. Public Health has been forced to cut back on vaccinations, dental care and outreach programs. 
    If you look at the obituaries, you will see that an awful lot of people die young here. My guess is that people die young because access to medical care is so difficult on Guam.

Click here to see more links to Guam medical information.

by Brenna Lorenz and Mike Pulte.

New hospital about being fair to our sick

Written by
Peter R. Sgro. Jr.

I started the process of trying to get a hospital built in 2006. This effort started with a team of 22 people in our community to create a business plan for the development of a privately owned and managed hospital for the benefit of the people of Guam.

We knew we needed a plan to later show potential investors that a hospital was vitally needed on Guam, and that there were not enough hospital beds on Guam to meet the needs of our community. We volunteered all our time, knowing that none of us would own any part of this hospital. It took us eight months to finish this 100-page business plan.

It was never about money for any of us that continued to work six years of our lives through 2012. Our only motivation was to help the sick of our island and to make it financially easier for thousands of patients and their families forced to leave island for care.

Instead of flying to private hospitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu and Manila, those that needed a state-of-the-art, specialty hospital could just drive to Dededo. For many that leave the island for care, they either had to secure loans or financial help from family and friends. For those that did not have the resources for care, choices were limited and often times the care they needed was not available on Guam.

For a community our size, we need an additional 317 more acute-care hospital beds. There are only about 147 hospital beds available for civilians on our entire island. The number of hospital beds needed on Guam continues to grow as our population grows, especially for those 65 years old or older.

We knew the sick of our island needed a different delivery of hospital care. We never used any government money, still volunteering all our time, with some of us making presentations to potential investors in Pittsburgh, Denver, Mitchell, S.D., San Francisco, Japan, South Korea and Manila.

We eventually found The Medical City in Manila, which made over a $250 million commitment to build a new hospital on Guam. Today we see two large cranes at the intersection of Route 3 and Marine Drive, with a large, new hospital under construction. As I write this letter, just the design work, engineering work and construction work created over 300 new jobs.

When the doors of this hospital open in late 2014, up to 400 new jobs will be created and additional doctors, including specialty doctors, will be there to serve you. Our local doctors will also have the opportunity to be credentialed to either work full-time at the new hospital, or see their patients at the new hospital

After all these years of being open and transparent about what we were trying to accomplish, why only now are a handful of doctors trying to limit the services that are planned for our sick? Why are a handful of doctors not wanting to openly debate what they believe to be a better position so that all of you can hear the truth? Why do they not want to openly discuss the issues so the public can hear both sides of this position?

There are many laws created to benefit us, in one way or another, including laws which provide incentives to investors to provide vitally-needed services to our community. The Qualifying Certificate Program is one of these laws that has existed for about 20 years.

Even Congress encouraged the development of a hospital on the land where the new hospital is being built. When thousands of acres of land in that area was returned, the master deed specifically states that the land uses included a hospital.

Now, after six years, the few doctors not supporting a qualifying certificate for the new hospital justify their position only by talking about fairness to their businesses. All of them could have applied for a qualifying certificate, and some did get one. Many of the others did not even know there was a law that provides these certificates.

This entire issue was never, and should never, be about what is fair to anyone's business or financial interest. This entire issue is about fairness to the sick of our island, fairness to their families and friends, and to ensure that medical services our people need be available right here at home.

Peter R. Sgro. Jr. is president of the Guam Healthcare and Hospital Development Foundation and a resident of Maite


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