Terlaje, Duenas, and Lujan want answers from GMH

Guam Memorial Hospital officials for more than three weeks now have refused to provide the truth about its financial condition; and when confronted with evidence of illegal net payroll being met, remained silent. Speaker Therese Terlaje, whose legislative committee has oversight of GMH, is waiting for answers as well.

GMH has not been forthcoming with their oversight chairwoman about its financial condition. Ms. Terlaje was not told about GMH’s illegal payment of net payroll at least twice this year, nor its $37 million in bills owed to nearly 250 vendors, more than $20 million of which is aged beyond 90 days.

“It’s either they are not getting their allotments or paying insurance claims or both,” Sen. Chris Duenas said. “This is completely unacceptable and an oversight hearing should be held immediately!”

Asked whether she is considering calling an oversight hearing regarding new reports of a financial crisis, Ms. Terlaje said: “I intend to raise these issues at GMH’s budget hearing already scheduled for May 19. That will be the quickest way to address publicly.”

This would not be the first time Ms. Terlaje and other senators will attempt to get honest answers out of GMH management. Since 2019, the speaker championed a $10 million appropriation specifically for hospital repairs. But, the money never made it to GMH despite repeated follow up calls and letters. The facility continues to deteriorate, along with its financials, all while Adelup staff, cabinet members, and high-paid GovGuam bureaucrats enjoy a $50 million annual increase in pay.

“Unconscionable that pay raises have been given and basic operations cannot be met and there is no excuse for breaking the law in not paying gross payroll,” Mr. Duenas said.

The pay raises, along with other appropriations made and being considered by senators, are being funded through a so-called anticipated surplus of the current Fiscal Year 2023 budget. That anticipated surplus is based on formulas of revenue tracking, and are not based on audited, reconciled financials. During the pay raises debate, neither the governor’s office nor GMH officials raised any red flags about the hospital’s financial needs, despite the governor simultaneously and harassingly pulling out all stops to the development of a new hospital at Eagle’s Field. That effort, which would have cost taxpayers about $1 billion, plus a proposed $10 million lease to the Navy, failed.

“It is disturbing to me that our governor has been boasting about how much we’re in a surplus and that we can afford to sustain pay raises under her administration, and yet our only civilian hospital, is left out in the dust, to continue being in a deficit sinkhole,” Sen. Jesse Lujan said. “We need to address this issue and immediately pay the full amount due to both our healthcare providers and the vendors who support our crucial healthcare providers.”


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