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Cancer Center unable to provide Blood Transfusions to critically ill patients

Posted By GuamBlog

Updated 09/01/2013

Dr. J. S. Friedman operates the Cancer Center of Guam. He also teaches in Malayasia half the year. A recent action by the new hospital administrator dramatically impacts the healthcare Dr. Friedman is able to provide island cancer patients. The move will mean that the Cancer Center of Guam will no longer be able to provide critically needed blood transfusions to desperately ill patients.

When the blood was cut-off to the Tamuning cancer treatment facility, several guamblog readers from GMH suggested that TakeCare, the notorious local insurer who routinely rips off the hospital and their own patients/subcribers, was behind the move to cripple the Cancer Center in order to drive business to their own new oncologist.

Copies of emails exchanged between GMH Medical Director Larry Lizama and peers, regarding the hasty and confusing decision by Verga, indicate that Verga, who had only been on Guam about a week, failed to discuss the situation with the Medical Director or other key hospital staff.

According to staff at the Cancer Center, the only cancer facility like it on Guam, they were not contacted or properly notified of the drastic decision by Verga before it was announced. Patient care was immediately negatively impacted.

Others blog readers questioned how Verga, who had been red flagged earlier during the transition period following the 2010 elections for outstanding conflicts of interests, had managed to get hired 2 years later.

Verga cited as his reason for cutting off the blood supply for the cancer center patients, was the lack of an MOU between the hospital and the Tamuning facility.

Friedman told Guamblog, “GMH may have misplaced their copy of our agreement. But I have mine on file at the cancer center. All they had to do was ask us for a copy.” When asked about the idea that TakeCare may be in some way behind the sudden move at GMH, the oncologist did not reply.

Below is the email Guamblog received yesterday, from a frustrated Dr. Friedman. He asks that he be given a chance to address serious implications of the abrupt policy change.

Unreal!!! PDN would not allow this on comments to the story about (new GMH chief executive officer Joseph) Verga. Is PDN crooked or what?? Is Guam Blog really the only source of any honest news and/or comments on Guam?

Mr. Verga, like so many previous GMH administrators seems to not know much about the problems at GMH and is flailing about in ignorance. In an obvious mistaken move to try to enhance the financial bottom line at GMH in the name of ‘safety’ he has overlooked or is ignorant of several facts:

1) the safety issue is GMH and staff itself, not the dedicated and professional staff who have been administering the blood as out patients.

2) blood and blood products have been given virtually without cost at Cancer Center of Guam under an MOU (which is on file at CCOG) for over 6 years under direction of the only Board certified hematologist on Guam and by the only certified nurse oncologists on Guam. There has never been even the suggestion of a problem, although we did note the wrong unit of blood supplied once by the GMH blood bank!

3) that prior to this, patients had to wait up to a day to receive blood or blood products which take from 15 to 90 minutes to administer.

4) that some patients require repeated blood transfusion several times per week.

5) that to be admitted to GMH robs the cancer patient and family of their quality AND SAFETY of life to mention nothing of cost and convenience.

6) that this procedure (out patient blood administration) is the standard of care in most civilized ares and even given at home by nurses in some areas.

7) that there are no out patient facilities at GMH and blood products are not allowed to be given in the ER necessitating an unnecessary admission. This requires in turn, an unnecessary history and physical, discharge summary and all the extra work and cost to GMH and problems for all staff.

8) that there is a chronic shortage of beds at GMH partially due to overuse of beds due often to patients that can be handled as out patient…. Mr. Verga, does this sound familiar?? As a result, patients who need a short care, such as a transfusion, have to wait often hours before a bed is available.

9) that he majority of patients are on MIP, Medicaid or Medicare, further adding not to the profit, but loss for GMH.

10) that neither the medical director of GMH, Dr. F. Lizama, nor anyone involved in administering the blood was even consulted about this disaster before Mr. Verga made his unilateral decree!

11) that there is ALWAYS a nurse and doctor at CCOG observing the patient during blood transfusion, in contracts to GMH, where blood is hung and the staff leaves the room.

So patients on Guam, it is more of the same, but worse. You now, if not reversed, lose a service which has been able to treat you with the best professional and safety concerns at virtually no cost and have this replaced by a service which has proved its ineptness, obtuseness and dangerous practices.

Mr. Verga, how many medical disasters and deaths would you like me to quote of which I am aware and I do not even enter GMH?

I wish you no ill, Mr. Verga, but if you are unfortunate to fall seriously ill, may you be admitted to GMH to avail yourself of the ‘excellent service’ (your words) that you and so many other inept people (like some of our elected officials) on Guam have created. I am sure though, like they (who also expound the virtues of GMH) , you will get your behind off Guam as fast as possible to a safe and efficient facility.

Prof. J. S. Friedman

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