The Navy likely would help ease Guam Memorial Hospital’s overcrowded pediatrics ward if no civilian help can be found and the hospital makes a formal request through federal channels, a Navy official said Wednesday.

“We aren’t doing anything at the moment to assist them because no formal request has been received,” said Lt. Arwen Consaul, spokeswoman for Guam’s commander, Naval Forces Marianas.

The Guam hospital’s pediatric ward reached its maximum number of patients last weekend but the overcrowding eased early this week, the Pacific Daily News reported. But even as beds opened up, the pediatric nursing shortage continued, with many working up to 16-hour shifts, the newspaper reported, citing a hospital official.

Consaul said that to seek help, the civilian hospital first would have to contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency “and report a state of emergency.” Those agencies first would determine whether any civilian help was available, she said, before asking Guam’s naval hospital for assistance.

In January, an unexpected spike in premature births led Guam Gov. Felix Camacho to declare a state of emergency at Guam Memorial’s neonatal intensive care unit.

During that time, the Naval hospital donated consumable medical supplies and loaned expensive medical equipment to the neonatal intensive care unit. The equipment was returned less than two weeks after it was borrowed, Ensign Jerry Wilkinson said Wednesday.

The January aid to the local hospital came about after authorization by CNFM officials and the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington. In addition to the donated supplies and loaned equipment, the Navy brought in incubators and a physician specializing in neonatal care from Okinawa’s U.S. Naval Hospital.

At no time, Wilkinson said, did January’s assistance have any negative impact on medical care for servicemembers and their dependents. “We assist them when we can,” he said of the civilian hospital.

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