Friday, February 12, 2010

Cruz to Bice: Get to grips with local issues

Cruz to Bice: Get to grips with local issues

Tuesday, 09 February 2010 04:03
by Jennifer Naylor Gesick |
Variety News Staff

VICE speaker BJ Cruz sent the Joint Guam Program Office a letter and two DVD copies of Thursday’s roundtable discussions on the military buildup’s impact on Guam healthcare at the legislature.

“You will see from the DVDs the degree of uncertainty that the heads of Guam’s health care agencies and their staff have regarding the impact that the buildup will have on their ability to provide needed services,” Cruz stated in his letter sent Friday to Major Gen. David Bice, executive director of JGPO. “I submit that the same is true government wide.”

Cruz specifically identified the Guam Memorial Hospital and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse as among the healthcare agencies that will need assistance in preparation for the troop buildup.

Cruz urged Bice to watch the DVDs “to get a clearer picture of the current state of Guam’s health care system and the impact that the buildup would have on Guam’s capacity to provide services in the various health care disciplines.”

“You have no doubt heard it said that the [draft environmental impact statement] raises more questions than what it answers,” wrote Cruz. “This is indicative of the deficiency of the [draft study] in addressing important buildup issues.”

The vice speaker asked Bice to note that 20 percent of DMHSA’s clients are military personnel and their families as reported by Dr. Andrea Leithheiser, psychologist and clinical administrator of DMHSA, during the roundtable discussion.

Cruz pointed out that the projected increase in Guam’s population will strain DMHSA’s ability to provide services.

He also warned the mental health department will be “crippled” if its staff is not adequately augmented to possibly treat Marines who have served one or more war zone tours.

“Whether or not DMHSA will receive the help it would need to support the buildup remains a big question. The [draft impact report] does not address it,” Cruz concluded.

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