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LBJ medical staff march on EOB called off

Supplemental Appropriation for hospital approved by fono
fili@samoanews.com
Medical staff gathers for planned march from Utulei Beach Park to LBJ. [photo: LBJ]

A planned peaceful march at 9a.m. today (Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012) comprising medical staff of the LBJ Medical Center did not go off as scheduled after new developments early this morning surfaced from the government. The half-mile march from Utulei Beach to the Executive Office Building was to call the government’s attention to the current financial plight faced by the hospital, which has implemented fee hikes and is poised to start laying off more than 200 workers starting tomorrow.

The group’s spokesman Dr. Matagiese Tunoa told some 70 medical staff and a handful of supporters that the medical executive committee received this morning new information regarding the situation with the hospital but didn’t elaborate further. (He also didn’t elaborate further when asked by Samoa News, saying that he would prefer to hold discussions first with the governor prior to releasing information to hospital staff.)

He said the executive committee has opted to hold off on the march and to allow four senior staffers to meet with the governor this morning and present their petition regarding the financial crisis at the hospital and the need for the government to provide financial assistance.

He urged those in attendance not to make this issue a “personal vendetta” because the goal for them is to ensure the health and medical needs of the people are met.

However, Dr. Toafala Iafeta, who oversees the Radiology Department, disagreed with canceling the march, which was agreed to during a meeting yesterday. He said the message to the government should be through a united stand.

Dr. B. Muasau, the acting director of medical staff, implored everyone to allow the executive team to meet with the governor first and deliver the group’s petition with the outcome to be relayed back to everyone.

In the end the march didn’t proceed but those who showed up for the march were told to return to their posts at the hospital and they would be informed later as to the outcome of the meeting with the governor.

The governor’s office has yet to issue an official statement. More details in tomorrow’s edition.

SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION BILL

Lawmakers in American Samoa today (Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012) approved a $3 million supplemental appropriation bill for LBJ Medical Center, whose officials have repeated since last year that the hospital needs additional funding due to the government’s failure to provide full subsidies in the last fiscal year 2011.

According to the approved amendments to the bill, the $3 million will be a loan from the Workmen’s Compensation Account, which currently has a balance of $4.5 million. The loan will be repaid with a new 2 percent wage tax to be paid by all workers in American Samoa. Once the loan is paid off, all revenue collected goes to the LBJ hospital for long-term funding. It remains unclear if the governor will approve this legislation. More details in tomorrow’s edition.



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