Project Village Access: Supporting Guam’s Recovery Efforts after Typhoon Mawar

By Gary Frazier

After natural disasters, the genuine spirit of humanity tends to emerge as communities rally to aid one another. In late May 2023, the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar left a trail of devastation on the island of Guam. Recognizing the urgent need for assistance, Worksite Labs provided medical services and community support which we referred to as “Project Village Access.”

Recognizing the Urgent Need for Project Village Access

The realization of the devastation struck me as I received messages, photos, and information from our Guam-based employees about the widespread damage. The storm spared no corner of the island, most affecting its northern half where our sites are located and where most of the population lives, then continuing to the southern regions where already resource-strapped communities were further stripped of essentials. The need for swift and effective action became clearer to me and our focus shifted toward planning a week of dedicated recovery assistance. 

Starting out, we decided we could have the most impact by joining forces with relief efforts already in progress. We got connected to Todu Guam Foundation, an organization that was already providing medical services to the communities through its mobile clinics. We offered to provide lab services as an add-on to their offerings and they were thrilled to have us lend extra hands. Additionally, we established connections with each of the Mayor’s offices who provided community centers where people could seek help. These collaborations were pivotal, as they allowed us to pool resources, share expertise, and offer essential services to those in need.

Community Resilience and Support

As I landed in Guam, the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar’s devastation was immediately evident. Trees that once stood tall were now like toothpicks, uprooted and toppled across the landscape all in the same direction. The green, lush vegetation was stripped away, leaving behind a changed and almost unrecognizable Guam. Many buildings, including hotels and restaurants, showed flooding and destruction. It was drastically different from what I had seen on my last visit just a couple months prior. 

In terms of efforts on the ground, our involvement went beyond medical services. We were right there, ready to help distribute much-needed resources to those in need. The experience was eye-opening. What mainly struck me was the resilience of the people. Despite the immense challenges they faced, the locals displayed incredible strength and optimism. 

Our team of medical professionals not only offered healthcare services but also participated in distributing food, water, and other essentials. Walking through the villages, we encountered smiling faces and a strong sense of community. Some of the people were even looking to offer us local guidance amidst their own difficulties. 

In Pursuit of Healthcare for all

Building on the unity we witnessed firsthand, our commitment to aiding communities goes beyond immediate relief efforts. By bringing our innovative lab model to Guam, we are making diagnostic testing more convenient for a historically underserved population. Worksite Labs has committed to building a full-service, high-complexity laboratory on-island as well as opening 3 conveniently located patient service centers where people live, work and shop. 

Opening our doors on island also creates jobs. We are also sponsoring a bootcamp with Guam Community College that will train students to become phlebotomists. Once the program is completed, they will have guaranteed employment through Worksite Labs. We are honored to have the ability to support education and the licensing of young people in the community to create jobs and further boost the Guam economy. 

We are committed to long-term progress in the spirit of unity and with the support of partners who have the same goals as us to provide equal access to healthcare for all.

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