‘What’s happening in Guam can happen here’

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Posted on Jun 30 2020

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File photo shows the Kanoa Resort in Susupe. (Justine Nauta)

Despite an original target completion date of May 28, construction work is still ongoing at the Alternate Care Site facility that is currently being built at the Kanoa Resort in Susupe.

Patrick Guerrero, the governor’s authorized representative, stated during yesterday’s House of Representatives meeting with the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force that the facility itself is halfway done, with generators, electronic health record computer systems, and medical supplies that will be soon placed in coming weeks.

He added that parking lots for an ambulance entrance is being worked on today and tomorrow, along with gauge-packed units that will be installed in the same area where the ACS will be receiving patients.

Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan) raised a concern that the spike in cases in neighboring Guam can easily happen in the Commonwealth, which is why the ACS should be completed at the soonest time possible.

Last June 27, medical beds and equipment were brought to the facility. As of today, Guerrero said that three different suppliers are bringing in all the equipment to the facility. He added that it will take about a week to 10 days to put the equipment in place.

As far as staffing goes, Guerrero said that, although he can’t speak on behalf of the hospital, even the hospital has limited care itself and, at some point, the ACS will need more providers and medical personnel to run the facility.

The COVID-19 Task Force will be prioritizing the facility to make sure that it will be running as smoothly as possible before putting in the much-needed staff, but Guerrero acknowledged that the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. staff need some time to figure out what will work out for the facility.

“CHCC staff need to get in there and be comfortable with the place, and learn about the ins and outs of the place and put together their plan on how to best run the facility,” said Guerrero.

Additionally, he stated that the COVID-19 Task Force has a mission assignment with the U.S. Army for 44 medical personnel. “We do have a mission assignment with the U.S. Army for 44 medical personnel and when we say we need them, then they’ve given us a two-week timeline on when those 44 medical personnel would come in,” he added.

Since COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, learning how to control or treat it is a big concern and “Lee Pan” Guerrero raised that concern by asking, “Do we have our doctors and nurses ready to handle an escalating number of infections? That is a concern.”

With home quarantine being implemented, there’s a great chance of infection happening if returning residents aren’t careful and do not take into consideration that they could have the virus. This led Guerrero to ask GAR, “Is ACS ready? Do we have adequate doctor, nurses? Are they being trained properly?”

Warren Villagomez, who chairs that COVID-19 Task Force, reassured that Esther Muña, CHCC chief executive officer, and her team have been meeting daily.

“I hope that the task force is ready for such a day [if] we have a huge number of infected individuals because we’re only seeing a trickle of this, we haven’t seen the full infection,” said Guerrero. “What’s happening in Guam can happen here. We need to have this unit ready and make sure that our doctors and nurses are properly trained.”

To date, the CNMI has 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with two deaths and one active case.

COVID-19 in Guam
Five new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the Department of Public Health and Social Services in Guam last June 26 through June 28. Four cases tested positive at the Diagnostic Laboratory Services and one case tested positive at U.S. Naval Hospital, Guam.

According to the Joint Information Center in Guam, one case reported household contact to a confirmed case and was identified through contact tracing. No other cases have reported contact to a confirmed case.

To date, Guam has a total of 253 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with five deaths, 179 released from isolation, and 69 active cases.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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