By Oyaol Ngirairikl
Guam Regional Medical City reiterated its commitment to Guam and residents of the region during a press conference on Sept. 15 and shared future aims.
Jose Xavier B. Gonzales, chairman of the board of Guam Health Care Development Inc., which does business as GRMC, said the island community was “tremendously underserved” on the healthcare front for many years. More than $400 million was invested to build GRMC, which is roughly the same size as Guam Memorial Hospital, he said.
Gonzalez credited CEO Alan Funtanilla with the new hospital’s accreditation within six months. “Our commitment to clinical quality and excellence has always been there. We’ve never had our accreditation drop,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez and other GRMC officials noted recently earned awards, including the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for “Advanced Primary Stroke Center” Certification. GRMC was also selected as one of the nation’s “High Performing” hospitals for stroke care as part of the U.S. News and World Report’s 2022-2023 Best Hospitals.
Gonzalez said the next steps for GRMC can be summed up in three points:
- Help promote inclusivity across Micronesia in terms of improving access to needed healthcare among the Freely Associated States.
In Guam, citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands were recently made eligible for Medicaid. GRMC officials said they’re also advocating for at least some healthcare funding be provided to FAS nations to help them build capacity. Officials said because Guam currently serves as a medical hub for the region “it does create an outmigration. “That’s why we want the feds to put money into the home islands, so they don’t need to leave to get healthcare.”
- Be ready to provide additional services for U.S. military veterans in Guam as well as enlisted personnel.
GRMC is located on Route 3, which also leads to Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, which is still under construction but expected to begin receiving Marines from Okinawa in the next couple of years. Route 3 also leads to Andersen Air Force Base.
- Working closer with the community to promote programs that help feed the healthcare industry with professionals in nursing and various technicians.
GRMC currently has eight certified nursing assistants from the University of Guam who are getting some hands-on experience at the private hospital through a two-week training. They will return for a second round of training, this time for six weeks.
“On these three fronts … we stand ready to support (the community) at GRMC,” Gonzalez said.
Peter R. Sgro Jr., senior advisor of Strategic Planning, Corporate Affairs and Communications, said the nursing shortage being felt in hospitals throughout the nation, remains an issue, which is why GRMC is working with education institutions to help more people in the field graduate.
“I believe there’s a state of an emergency with respect to the shortage of nurses here on Guam,” he said. GRMC has 136 beds, which can’t be filled because the hospital doesn’t have the nurses required for each bed, he said.
Congressional legislation could help smooth the way to get visas for nurses coming to Guam. Sgro and other officials said they’re looking at these two paths to help build the nursing staff.
Bella Wings Aviation has opened a drone flight lab at Tumon Sands Plaza — the first of its kind, according to company representatives.
“The lab will be dedicated to the advancement of the drone industry, both for research and development,” said Charlie Hermosa, president and co-founder of Bella Wings Aviation.
Bella Wings is actively creating a network to provide innovative and cost-effective solutions throughout all industries. Its flight lab will also serve as a training institute for anyone pursuing a career as a Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 licensed drone pilot.
“Holding an FAA Private Pilot License and Part 107 certification — this represents a great opportunity for BWA drone pilots to give back and help with the island’s development through drone air services,” said Pearla Cordero, chief operating officer and co-founder for the company.
On Aug. 31, BWA officials showcased product launches demonstrating advancements in drone technology in Guam, including the light assembly/manufacture of drones at the new flight lab. BWA has received an initial order of 20 drone kits to be assembled on site.
A demonstration for the development of BWA’s Virtual Inspection Construction Engineering Program was also performed. “VICE will transform how we utilize virtual reality and the development of Guam’s Metaverse,” Hermosa said. mbj