Barnett bill will force new GMH construction in Tamuning

Legislation by Chris Barnett will end the debate on where to build the new Guam Memorial Hospital if enough senators vote for the measure to withstand a likely gubernatorial veto.

Bill No. 185-37, introduced Friday, will require construction in Tamuning. The most likely location will be the site of the old Guam Memorial Hospital at Oka/Ypao/Hospital Point.

Matrix Design Group, which conducted a study on possible locations for a new medical campus, provided information suggesting the Tamuning location as the one most ready, feasible, and least costly for the development. Lou Leon Guerrero, however, has ignored the recommendation and has insisted on building the new medical campus along Route 15, Mangilao.

Her insistence has delayed development for the past two years. The original location she tried to ramrod through with a backdoor agreement with the U.S. Navy – Eagle’s Field – essentially was stopped by an opinion from Attorney General Douglas Moylan dealing with the illegality of any such lease of the site. The governor has since turned her attention to 61 acres of land in Mangilao (though a map says it is in the “Municipality of Barrigada) owned by the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission.

Ms. Leon Guerrero sent draft legislation to senators asking they authorize the government of Guam’s lease or purchase of the property from its own GALC. In the meantime, Therese Terlaje – the legislative speaker and chairwoman of the hospital oversight committee – has called an oversight hearing next week to discuss the feasibility of the Tamuning location.

The island’s two major associations of doctors – the Guam Medical Association and the Guam Medical Society – have been vocal about their demands the hospital be built in Tamuning, where an estimated 90 percent of clinics operate, and doctors reside.

“It makes sense,” Senator Barnett said. “Minutes matter when it comes to saving lives and that’s why location matters when we’re talking about the site of a new hospital.”

“It’s bizarre to want to build a new hospital or medical complex way out in the middle of nowhere, and Adelup hasn’t even offered any explanation as to why they want to do that,” Senator Barnett said. “Meanwhile, the reasons to expand on our existing medical footprint and infrastructure in Tamuning are many. Adelup has complained the Legislature hasn’t offered any alternatives, but the Governor and Lt. Governor have refused to even come to the table to talk about this issue. I really hope that changes. I pray we can talk about alternatives without the administration playing favorites with site selection.”

Barnett is also asking Speaker Therese Terlaje to add his Bill 185-37 (LS) to the agenda for the November 1 public hearing on the Governor’s Bill 184-37 (COR) that would authorize the GALC land lease or purchase.


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