Thursday, February 11, 2010

Upped demand for social services worries agencies

Upped demand for social services worries agencies

Friday, 05 February 2010 01:01
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

THE anticipation of over 35,000 civilians who will make Guam their home once the military buildup has reached steady state by 2014 and the impact of increased demand for services are a serious matter that department heads acknowledged yesterday.

However, officials have yet to quantify the financial impact of providing social services to these newcomers.

“This information is critical because these costs need to be quantified and I was hoping that was what these departments and agencies had. It was very, very disappointing. It’s a lot of information, I understand this,” said Sen. Frank Aguon Jr., chairman of the health committee.

“The problem is that they’re working their daily job, but it might be that they don’t have the capacity or the expertise to be able to go out and get those numbers. If you don’t have the resources to get those critical numbers, then how are we going to know exactly how much it’s going to cost to meet our needs,” he added.

During the committee’s roundtable discussion, heads of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, the Department of Public Health and Social Services and the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disablities, informed lawmakers that their departments are not ready for the additional influx of people.

However, not all of them could provide numbers as to what their agency would need and what each agency’s plan was to meet the increase.

Each one reiterated the shortages at all levels of critical health care positions such as the lack of doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers, case workers, and other health and social care providers that are critical to the daily operations of each department.

Aguon said he had hoped that the presentations would have provided solid information that were quantifiable in terms of how much each department will need to hire, maintain and enhance its department so that the information will be provided to the federal government in which Guam can say it has the numbers and will the government assist in funding these critical needs.

DISID director Rosanne Ada identified buildup-related issues that would greatly affect the services it provides and the direct impact to its disabled consumers.

Ada said the influx of immigrants from neighboring islands and military dependents seeking jobs may reduce the number of job opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Nevertheless, Ada said that military dependents and families of contract workers may be a source of professional and technical resources for specialized needs of individuals with disabilities such as therapeutic foster parents, teachers, nurses, therapists, job coaches and language interpreters.

Ada did not know if the military will give seeing impaired vendors first priority to operate vending shops on military property under the Randolph-Sheppard Act, or whether the military dining and recreational facilities would train and hire individuals with disabilities.

Another issue is that DISID has not had the chance to establish credible policies and procedures and standards of care that are anywhere near the Department of Defense standard of care and so DISID stands at risk of providing services that may be perceived by the military as sub-standard care, said Dr. Zeni Natividad.

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