Troy Talks: Episode 2 • So, what’s up with the new hospital?

Why has the hype died about building a new hospital? I thought this issue was important to our leaders. Yet, we’re hearing about every issue – from land swaps to promotions to the renaming of election precincts – except the need to build a new hospital.

Lou Leon Guerrero and her opponents in the Guam Legislature dragged us through three months of cacophonous back-and-forth dueling, oftentimes filled with political rhetoric and posturing about where to build this hospital. That followed two years of on-again, off-again public pronouncements and debate about placing the hospital somewhere else.

This current effort by the Leon Guerrero administration started in the midst of the pandemic. It followed a barrage of restrictions meant to decrease the transmission of the coronavirus to aged and immunocompromised populations BECAUSE Guam Memorial Hospital lacks the capacity to save lives once a tipping point is met. Unfortunately, that tipping point has been at an 85 degree angle for years now.

Eddie Calvo

And that’s why this discussion is much older than 2021. It goes back to 2014, when Eddie Calvo began drawing up plans to either replace GMH or build a new one. Those plans were in earnest, but democrats in the legislature refused to allow a republican governor to make off with such a political victory. Interestingly – as I’m sure Mr. Calvo himself has noticed – many of the democrats who railed hard against the Calvo plan of action now work for the current democratic administration.

My, how spines curve in politics.

We have known since a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report a decade ago that GMH is falling apart. It has been a decade of here-again, there-again discussion by democrats and republicans to build a new hospital.

But that’s all this has been to this point – a discussion! Guam’s leaders are very good at that. They love discussions, where absolutely nothing of value is said. That’s because talking about things is much easier than taking action. It’s because the more you’re able to talk about something, the better your reelection sound bites get, or the more you get to rob your competitor of a feather she can have on her cap.

Debate is valuable, but how many more words need to go into the effort to choose a freaking site to build Guam Memorial Hospital?

There have been two bills introduced in the legislature that will determine where this hospital is built. The first is the governor’s bill to authorize the purchase of land along the back road to Andersen Air Force Base. She wants to build a full medical campus on a large tract of land. Personally, I find nothing wrong with her vision to build a medical campus, and I like that a governor is finally thinking big for her people.

The cost, however, is a whole other issue. Can the government of Guam afford to stow away $30 million to $50 million every year in debt service in order to pay down bonds for such an undertaking? Do our senators have the finance wherewithal to learnedly and comprehensively determine what needs to be sacrificed – or what sacrifices they will require of taxpayers – in order to afford this campus? Can you imagine? They’re taking this long to figure out where to build this thing… think about what happens when you put a calculator in front of them and ask them to do the math on the bond bill that they eventually will need to debate.

Oh my goodness! At the rate senators are going, Generation Z will be in office by the time a new hospital is built! And then we can build the facility using the power of their unhurt feelings. I digress.

Then there are the concerns – very legitimate concerns – by medical professionals about moving this facility from the population center to a place that will take doctors a 40 minute drive to get to in an emergency. And their concern is backed by a solution: GovGuam already owns a large piece of land IN TAMUNING that already is site prepared for a hospital because a hospital once stood there: Ypao Point, or Oka Point, or Satpon Point… or whatever the hell these senators waste their time and our resources renaming in the midst of a far-more important discourse.

Chris Barnett, the maverick senator, has heard these concerns from medical professionals and people of common sense who really wonder why the governor wants to spend money on a new piece of property when GovGuam already has Ypao/Oka/Satpon Point. He very quickly and appropriately introduced legislation to require the hospital be built in Tamuning. If that bill becomes law, the governor almost assuredly will be forced to build GMH at Ypao/Oka/Satpon Point (ridiculous repetitive nomenclature, right?).

Both Ms. Leon Guerrero and Mr. Barnett’s bills were introduced MONTHS AGO. Both Leon Guerrero and Barnett sold us on how critical it was to take action on their bills.

Yet, the Guam Legislature has not passed either of these bills.

Therese Terlaje

“I will try to place them on agenda during January, subject to completion of committee report and of course subject to necessary votes to report out,” Therese Terlaje, the legislative speaker told Kandit today.

If this is such a priority – and it is – then senators would drop everything they are doing and dedicate all their brain power to figuring out which one of these two bills they will pass, and pass that one. Hurry up. Because after they select a site, the governor still needs to do the heavy lifting involved with the procurement for the design and development of this new hospital. And then the time will come – hopefully soon – for the legislature to consider the bond authorization.

And, hopefully, senators by that time will have the brainpower to ask the right questions and get the right answers that will enable an authorization that is responsible and cost effective for the taxpayers. All while hurrying up the construction of a new GMH.

This isn’t rocket science. And it needs to stop being party politics. Hurry up and make a decision on where to build GMH. Let the governor build the damn hospital.


  • Imelda Tanapino

      12/28/2023 at 10:03 PM

    Seems like political fluff news posited by political hacks in order to keep the hakism online. After all, all political hacks know where the bread is buttered.

  • Imelda Tanapino

      12/28/2023 at 11:41 PM

    Basically, your selfish half [censored] GovGuam “governor” doesn’t want noises near her home in Damnuning.

    Like Imelda wanted new shoes, and Ferdinand wanted gold and power.

    Who has what now, [censored] invaders and colonizers.

  • Titanos Manahak

      12/29/2023 at 6:44 PM

    Imelda, the dysfunction at GMH is not as fluffy as the stuff between your ears and your thighs, Darling.

    Seems people are dying, babies are crying, and nurses are quitting!

    Would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Kinda like the People Power Movement sweeping all those beautiful shoes out of Malacanang.

    It’s always funny when it’s not happening to you. When the failure of GMH hurts you or your family, suddenly it matters.

    That sound you are hearing is the GMH shit hitting the fan.

  • Titanos manahak

      12/29/2023 at 6:54 PM

    The stark contrast between GMH and Filipino hospitals is the commitment to competency and cleanliness.

    While GMH wallows in filth and bureaucratic corruption, St Luke’s, Medical City, Santo Tomas, and the University of the Philippines deliver world-class care to their people.

    The irony of Guam patients needing to go to a Third World country to find a clean hospital bathroom is lost on nobody.

    Salamat po.

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