PIHOA E-Blast: Certification Improves Health Care Access for Guam’s Department of Corrections Population – FULL ANNOUNCEMENT
(Hagåtña, Guam) – The decades-long doctor shortage at correctional facilities in Guam may be coming to an end after the island’s Corrections Department became the newest certified National Health Service Corps (NHSC) site in the Pacific Region. The certification facilitates the agency’s ability to recruit and hire qualified NHSC primary care and behavioral health care providers to serve the institution’s more than 700 inmates and detainees.
“With this certification, Guam will have another tool to address our longstanding medical personnel shortage. While we continue to tackle Guam’s struggles with recruitment and retention of qualified medical personnel, as an NHSC site, the Department of Corrections (DOC) will be able to improve the quality and access to care for their population,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero.
As a newly certified site, the Guam DOC will be included on a list of NHSC-approved service sites. The certification gives the agency access to more than 1,500 qualified health professionals participating in the NHSC Loan Repayment, Scholarship, and other Loan Repayment Programs. The NHSC program is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
“The National Health Service Corps builds communities by helping to increase personnel in areas with limited access to healthcare. Just last year, we announced the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center’s approval as an NHSC site. Through this designation, we hope to address problems that have plagued our island for too long,” said Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio.
“DOC is very excited and appreciative of this momentous occasion. For so long, DOC has lacked the resources to provide ALL the necessary health care to its population. The certification is a milestone for DOC’s future,” said DOC Director Joseph Carbullido. “On behalf of the Governor of Guam, Lourdes Leon Guerrero, and the Lt. Governor of Guam, Josh Tenorio, we would like to thank the Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA) and all those involved in making this certification possible,” added Carbullido.
Securing this NHSC site certification involved technical assistance from PIHOA and its Pacific Basin Primary Care Office. Primary healthcare access in the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) has long been a focus of the organization. Since 2009, PIHOA has been facilitating access to qualified primary health professionals and services in the region.
Established in 1986 by the chief health officials of the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPIs) of American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Republic of Palau, the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) is a 501(c)3 headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, with a field office in Hagatna, Guam. PIHOA’s mission is to provide, through collective action and decision-making, a credible regional voice for health advocacy in and for the Pacific.
Today, PIHOA’s membership is comprised of the ministers/directors/secretaries of health (executive governing board) of the six USAPIs, their deputies and Chief Executive Officers of local public hospitals (associates), and Pacific regional professional associations (affiliates). PIHOA’s Secretariat, comprised of ten executive, administrative and technical staff and a number of short and long-term consultants, have been tasked to provide technical assistance to the USAPI health ministries and departments in the following health systems strengthening areas: 1) health workforce development/human resources for health; 2) epidemiology and surveillance; 3) performance improvement; 4) laboratory services; 5) regional health policy and advocacy; 6) health security, and 7) leadership development.