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NEWS: Governor pays hotels, won't pay COVID-19 clinics

(Tumon, Guam) Governor Leon Guerrero is refusing to compensate several clinics that she ordered in March to serve as Tier 2 clinics which were converted into extensions of the Guam Memorial Hospital.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero activated hotels and clinics at the start of the public health emergency in mid-March. The hotels were to quarantine or isolate tourists and returning residents. She designated three clinics to be satellite GMH emergency facilities.

They had to shut down their business operations to all other types of patients. Based on her orders, the clinics stopped their routine clinic work with established patients and took in everyone who came for treatment regardless of their ability to pay. They kept their full staffing levels operating as they were swarmed with patients which freed up the hospital. The cost to operate fully on behalf of the hospital has been difficult without their usual cash flow coming in from established patients.

But unlike the hotels, these clinics won’t be paid for their work.

On May 8, 2020, Ms. Leon Guerrero ordered her budget and cash directors to pay the four hotels she designated as quarantine or isolation facilities everything they had invoiced, despite the lack of a contract, or any type of legal procurement of facilities.

On May 11, she told Speaker Tina Muna Barnes in a letter that she will NOT be compensating the clinics for their part in the COVID-19 emergency response.

On May 4, Ms. Muna Barnes wrote to the governor, stating, "American Medical Center, FHP Health Care Center, as well as the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic have been deemed as 'Tier Two' facilities to provide Urgent Care to residents. From our follow-ups today with all three of these clinics, they have yet to receive a single cent, as the Government of Guam has yet to adopt an MOU as required by E.O. 2020-06."

Ms. Leon Guerrero replied to her, "I am concerned that your letter unintentionally casts an untrue perception of these Tier 2 clinics, among other clinics, who have worked selflessly and at their own expense for the betterment of the health of our people on the island. Like so many of the medical professionals on Guam, Tier 2 clinics has (sic) done without any arrangement with the government of Guam. We were quite clear on that."

The governor's logic for not paying the clinics is the absence of an agreement to pay the clinics; however, she has paid hotels absent written agreements as well.

Dr. Vince Akimoto, one of the principal partners of American Medical Center said his clinic will be speaking with its attorney Wednesday.

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