Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Healthcare needs to increase 26%

Healthcare needs to increase 26%

Wednesday, 09 December 2009 04:52 by Jennifer Naylor Gesick | Variety News Staff

IN 2014, the peak construction year for the military buildup, Guam will need additional 15 doctors and 91 additional nurses to maintain the current service ratios in the healthcare service, according to the draft environmental impact statement. The additional healthcare professional needs account for a 26 percent increase.

Guam is already designated a medically under-served area due to the current low healthcare provider to general population ratio. The draft report acknowledges the military buildup will exacerbate the healthcare problem on island.

Guam currently falls below the national average in terms of healthcare provider to general population ratio. The service ratio for the number of physicians to the population of Guam is 1 doctor per 2,821 people. The service ratio for the number of nurses to the population of Guam is 1 nurse per 453 people.

The draft impact report anticipates that short- and mid-term medical staffing requirements would increase over current requirements as a result of increased population.

When construction activities are completed, the number of additional doctors and nurses drops to two and 12, a two percent and three percent increase, respectively, according to the report.

Still, the impact study states that these numbers are needed only to maintain the currently low ratio of doctors and nurses to population.

Without corresponding increases in healthcare providers, there will be severe potential health and safety impacts, the study says.

The military promises that “these impacts would be mitigated by assisting GovGuam in funding for health services personnel.”

Without more providers people may have to endure longer wait and response times, fewer or no available providers on island for chronic or acute issues. Complications or death from delayed treatment may be a result of not enough health care providers. Patients may even be required to travel off-island just to receive adequate treatment.

The Guam Memorial Hospital, the only civilian hospital, currently has a 208 bed capacity; 159 acute care beds, 16 bassinets, and 33 long-term beds located in our Skilled Nursing Facility. The availability of beds for actual admissions, however, varies from time to time in accordance with the availability of fully trained and licensed staff.

Naval Hospital is the primary medical provider for military members and their families. The facility admits 2,000 patients annually and delivers 300 babies in a typical year.

The Guam Healthcare and Hospital Development Foundation founded by businessman Pete Sgro is hoping to build a private hospital that will supplement the medical and healthcare services for the island’s civilian community.

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