Family Advisory Network feature: Guam

  • Published August 30, 2021

This month, we're featuring our Family Advisory Network representative from Guam.

Pauline Camacho is the Program Coordinator for the Department of Public Health & Social Services Family Health Information Resource Center (FHIRC). This Health Resources and Services Administration-funded Family-to-Family program assists families of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN). She represents the family voice on the EMS Commission that meets monthly.

Responding to and working through COVID

Throughout the pandemic, public health staff were all assigned to COVID duties. As the sole staff member and service provider for the program, Camacho struggled with the additional high priority COVID tasks; FHIRC work continued despite the additional challenges. The focus was on telecommunicating with families via phone calls, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other apps. With 2020 CARES Act funding via the Family Voices organization, training was conducted with families to prepare them on how to have their first telemedicine appointment.

The FHIRC also partners with Medical Social Services, which traditionally hosts the Shriner's Clinic from Honolulu that travels to Guam to help CYSHCN at least twice a year. Because services were delayed for over a year due to the pandemic, families were thankful for the much-needed services when they returned in May 2021.

Advocating for CYSHCN

Because of her work with families of CYSHCN, Camacho is able to directly promote the EMSC Special Needs Identification Program. Registration into this program allows EMS to locate and prioritize the home of the CYSHCN in the event of an emergency or disaster. Camacho is working on one of the barriers to families registering with this program, which is the requirement of a doctor's signature on the form verifying that the child has special healthcare needs.

"I'm blessed to be a part of this very important work to support and empower families and make them realize how they are the key to their child's health and success in life,” says Camacho. “Parents and caregivers know their children best and must be involved to speak up and advocate for their needs."

She notes that one of her favorite sayings is: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

In addition to her tremendous work helping CYSHCN, Camacho is active in working with Guam's early childhood system. She assisted in successfully getting federal funding to support school readiness initiatives and early childhood developmental screening programs to help identify and refer eligible children to support services that they need.

Camacho says she also appreciates and enjoys the monthly support calls with Federal TA Officers and the collaboration with Pacific partners of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Hawaii. "We all share and learn from each other."

"It is clear that the children and youth of Guam have the best advocate in Pauline," says Jennifer Talley, EMSC FAN coordinator. "She has such a heart for helping and the energy and motivation to make change. We are proud of her work, and we hope to support and enable it for many years to come."