Joshua Tenorio, the acting governor of Guam, this afternoon signed Jesse Lujan’s legislation into law that will give Guam Memorial Hospital $30 million to pay down its debts to vendors. The administration is expected to transfer another $20 million to GMH from leftover federal pandemic funds to fund needed repairs at the ailing facility.
In a video message to the public, Mr. Tenorio applauded senators for passing the appropriation, and assured the public of the administration’s commitment to building a new hospital. The acting governor referred to a search for the land on which the new hospital will be developed, but did not specify any particular lot or village.
We provide to you below the full text of Mr. Tenorio’s written letter to Therese Terlaje, the legislative speaker, notifying her of the passage of the law:
Hafa Adai Madam Speaker,
Bill No. 164-37 (LS) appropriates Thirty Million Dollars ($30,000,000) to the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority (“GMHA”) from prior fiscal year excess funds from the General Fund to pay vendor payments and perform all necessary building repairs.
Senators Jesse Lujan and Frank Blas deserve thanks for their work on Bill No. 164-37 to ensure GMHA will obtain the funds necessary to pay their outstanding vendor payables. Senator San Agustin’s work guiding this bill through the committee of the whole was critical to the passage of Bill No. 164-37. Our Administration looks to continue working closely with members of the legislature who are willing to rise above personal and political agendas to help the people of Guam in the way the senators who supported Bill No. 164-37 did.
With GMHA facing both fiscal and physical challenges, swift action is necessary to ensure our island’s only public hospital is supported and has the requisite resources to continue providing necessary services to the people of Guam. Our Administration has continuously supported GMHA. Prior to the passage of Bill No. 164-37, we committed Twenty Million ($20,000,000) additional dollars for urgent capital improvements to GMHA’s facility from American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) funds as permitted by the U.S. Treasury’s Final Rule for the ARPA Fiscal Recovery Fund.
While Bill No. 164-37 serves as a temporary solution to the current outstanding vendor payables problem, GMHA’s financial situation demands a deeper fiscal examination. On October 13, 2023, I issued Executive Order No. 2023-12 recognizing the need for a review of GMHA’s finances and to give the hospital the support it needs. Specifically, Executive Order No. 2023-12 establishes a Fiscal Review Committee consisting of subject matter experts in finance and fiscal operations from the Office of the Governor, the Department of Administration, and the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, to assess and monitor GMHA’s financial policies and processes. The Committee will then make recommendations to the Governor. This will allow the Governor to assist GMHA with ensuring its future financial health, and monitor the proper expenditure of ARPA funds and legislative appropriations. Allowing GMHA the opportunity to integrate best practices into a broader strategy for financial success will ensure the continuity of services.
Further, our Administration continues to issue repeated warnings about the physical state and lifespan of GMHA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers substantiated that the current hospital site is unable to accommodate critical expansions, lacks the capacity to accommodate substantial construction projects, and ultimately, it will be more cost-effective to construct a new facility rather than repair the current hospital in an attempt to bring it up to modern medical standards. With this in mind, we continue to pursue every means necessary to ensure our people and visitors alike have access to a healthcare facility that complies with national standards and rivals other healthcare facilities in the nation. Until then, we recognize that GMHA is Guam’s only public hospital providing medical care to Guam’s residents, and at this critical moment in time, we must provide GMHA with the support it needs.
For these reasons, I sign Bill No. 164-37 (LS) into law as Public Law No. 37-43.
Joshua F. Tenorio
Acting governor of Guam