- Written by Janela Buhain Carrera
With a debt looming, the hospital could risk losing its Joint Commission accreditation. GMH has submitted a budget request of $144 million for next fiscal year, $50 million more than this year’s $93 million dollar budget.
Guam Memorial Hospital CEO Joe Verga has submitted a budget request to the Guam legislature of about $144 million. It’s $51 million more than the current budget of $93 million, but the goal is for the financially strained hospital to settle its more than $20 million dollar debt that has lingered for years. And Health Oversight Chairman Sen. Dennis Rodriguez says he’s in full support of the budget request.
"I think it’s a step in the right direction. At least I personally was always wanting the hospital to come up with a budget that reflects what their true cost and what their true operations are. This $20 million debt has been something that’s been in their books for quite some time now and not putting it in their budget is telling their vendors, our vendors, our local doctors who are owed that hey, you’re not important," Rodriguez says.
While the Health Committee Chairman is optimistic about the fiscal year 2014 budget request, questions still remain about whether GovGuam can afford it. Verga has noted that by paying off GMH’s debt through this budget request, it would help secure their Joint Commission accreditation—an accreditation achieved just three years ago after nearly three decades without it. Senator Rodriguez agrees."I think we have no choice. If we want our hospital to be financially sound and stable, we’re gonna need to provide them the resource and the means that it takes to effectively run the hospital," he emphasizes.
"The hospital has worked very hard to achieve Joint Commission accreditation. A lot of resources have been put into it," he adds.
Senator Rodriguez hopes to also get his colleagues’ full support of GMH’s $144 million dollar budget request. It’s a lot to ask for, he notes, but he believes it’s all or nothing and the numbers speak for themselves."One thing I think is set in stone and as a fact is the amount of debt. I don’t know how we could try to lower that amount down. These are debts that were owed over 90 days some of them over a few years and so this is something we must address," Rodriguez says. "I believe every reasonable person would accept this and support it."