The federal government gave Guam Memorial Hospital $15 million to upgrade its Barrigada Heights Skilled Nursing Facility, according to the hospital administrator, who also reported a government task force continues to work on building a replacement for the main hospital.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is “leaning favorably” toward building a replacement Guam Memorial Hospital in Mangilao, on land that might be returned by the military, said GMH Administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas.

More:Governor eyes military land for new hospital

More:Will Guam fix GMH or build a new hospital? Here’s what Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero would prefer

Perez-Posadas Wednesday afternoon told the hospital board that the Guam Economic Development Authority is leading the task force for a new hospital. It last met in October, she said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which assessed GMH in November 2019, has recommended that Guam build a replacement hospital at a cost of about $743 million instead of spending $761 million to renovate the current facility.

Building a replacement hospital at another site is recommended, the Army Corps report stated, because there is not enough space at the current Tamuning site to support necessary hospital expansion, construction activity and additional parking.

“The current infrastructure of the GMH facility is in an overall state of failure due to age, environmental exposure, lack of financial resources to support pre-planned capital infrastructure replacements and lack of previous facilities design adherence to building codes,” the report stated.

Replacement or extensive repair of the facility is required in order to ensure compliance with hospital accreditation standards and to protect staff, patients and visitors, it stated.

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Best option
Leon Guerrero in March said the best option is to rebuild, and that she talked to the Navy about possibly returning military-held land to the local government for the project.

Leon Guerrero last month told the Rotary Club of Guam that her decision to provide refuge to the COVID-stricken aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt built goodwill with the military.

“The Secretary of the Navy is going to give us excess land because of that,” she said.

Perez-Posadas said the military might return as many as three parcels of land:

near Eagles Field in Mangilao;
at the former Admiral Nimitz Golf Course, in Barrigada; and
in the South Finegayan area of Dededo.
She said the governor is most interested in the Mangilao site because of its large size and central location.

Perez-Posadas said Guam applied for a $1.6 million grant from the military’s Office of Economic Adjustment to pay for a conceptual design for the new hospital, but she doesn’t know the status of that request.

FEMA gives $15M
The hospital on Sept. 8 submitted a plan to FEMA, seeking federal funding to transform the Barrigada Heights Skilled Nursing Facility into an “alternate care facility” capable of handling very ill pandemic patients.

Perez-Posadas on Wednesday said the $15 million funding request was approved, with $11.4 million already in the bank.

She has said the goal is to turn the Barrigada site into a “robust isolation facility,” and not just an overflow for the main hospital.

GMH plans to purchase additional medical equipment for the Skilled Nursing Facility, including central monitoring capability. It also wants to ensure the patient rooms have negative air pressure.

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