NHHC Career Fair reveals telemedicine as jobs focus

NEG participants have first dibs for training and jobs

Approximately 500 National Emergency Grant participants attended the first job/ career fair in the territory by the Native Hawaiian Holding Company (NHHC), at the Gov. H. Lee Auditorium over the weekend.

NHHC local Projects Manager Paula Stevenson-McDonald and her husband Michael McDonald said the turnout was great and they are looking forward to the second career fair that will be held next month.

The Procurement Office approved last month the sole sourcing of a $4.7 million contract to the NHHC. 

According to the governor’s office, the project is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Emergency Grant (NEG) and administered by the local Department of Human Resources.

The NHHC is to provide training and employment in the contact center industry for 900 NEG participants and is to operate job placement and supportive services in a One Stop Career and Training Center (OSCTC) setting that will serve as part of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Workforce System. 

The OSCTC will be located at the former American Samoa Veterans Association club house in Tafuna and Gov. Togiola Tulafono has noted that funds for the NHHC contract are being used solely for the participant training and support services, and not for capital improvements to the facility.

During the career fair, Paula McDonald noted the current focus of the NHHC project is on the NEG participants. However, later they will begin to look to the local community at large to train and fill spots that are still available, or come available through the job programs.

There were two sessions for the career fair, on Saturday, one in the morning, a second in the afternoon. The NHHC also had bus transportation made available for the NEG participants who attended the job fair sessions.

Department of Human Resources Director Evelyn Vaitaotolu-Langford briefed the attendees on the background of the NEG program.

Paula McDonald told the NEG participants that the goal of the career fair is to give the participants an overview of the job programs that are available. She explained that at the end of the session, each NEG participant should complete a career survey with the assistance of the NEG case workers, who were DHR staff members there to assist.

The project manager said the information on the career survey form can help place the individual into the right job ... the one for which he or she is qualified.

Michael McDonald told the participants the jobs creation strategy will be centered around telemedicine. A short video was shown, explaining what telemedicine is and how it can benefit the people of American Samoa. He explained that telemedicine helps to eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services, he said.

“Telemedicine will allow us to change the way we access health care in American Samoa, it will — to a large degree — revolutionize health care here in American Samoa."

McDonald noted that American Samoa will be the first in the Pacific region to have a telemedicine network and this is a testament of all the hard work that the territory’s leaders have put into this program to help American Samoa move forward and change the quality of life for the people.

The project manager played a power point slide show explaining how job opportunities could be created around Telemedicine.

“As we start to build the health care industry, several jobs will be required to support the industry. There are, for example, Clinical, Operations and Administrative departments as well as special projects.

In each of the departments, we will need to fill several job slots and several career options will be generated. For example under the clinical department we’re going to need placement for things like nursing assistance, pharmacy technicians, X-Ray technicians, dental techs, medical assistance.”

He said this is where a layer of jobs will be developed as they start to support the health care industries. There will also be a need to  support other industries in order to run the health care clinics at a very efficient level.

He explained that once the health center grows, there will be a need to develop the transportation industry, communications industry, housing industry, financial industries, food service and many more. He said the jobs are going to come from economic growth in each one of these industries.

“As we create these industries more jobs will be created — and that is where we are looking to place you (the participants) in these specific jobs over the next several months. Many of you will get job opportunities rather quickly”, said McDonald. He told the participants this is a broad overview of the industry approach to developing the health care industry in the territory.

McDonald reiterated that this is where the job growth and the job creation will really happen.

The project manager contacted Dr. Lulu Mafui’e Fiatoa in Honolulu as an illustration of how telemedicine works. Dr. Fiatoa told the participants from Honolulu how happy he was to be a part of this telemedicine program, and participants have to set their mind to this and want to be part of it, because “there is room for everyone”.

“One of the difficult situations I’m aware of is the off island referrals for the sick population and telemedicine can help American Samoa a lot.

“We Doctors can use telemedicine to network to many specialists — not only in Hawaii but also to the mainland, exchanging information, exploring data, and monitoring patients remotely.”

NHHC CEO, Dennis “Bumpy: Kanahele, in a teleconference interview with Samoa News, said that American Samoa will have revolutionized health care and “he’s happy to be a part of this.

“The most important thing is for us as a community to actually see the Samoan community grow and unite and to start working with each other,” said the CEO. He added that he hopes the people of American Samoa will take advantage of this high level of telecommunication.

The CEO said all he wants in return is satisfaction and betterment for the Samoan people.

Michael McDonald told Samoa News that his hiring process is underway; they have already hired 25 employees for the NHHC; and, they are looking at hiring more employees in the next weeks and months. He explained that if training is needed, additional training will be provided.

Samoa News spoke to a couple, who were participants of the career fair, asking about their impressions. The couple said they appreciated the job fair, and it was a good opportunity for them, however, they would have preferred to have listened to bilingual sessions, as most of the presentations were in English.

(Samoa News notes that the teleconference — a live, telemedicine demonstration with Dr. Fiatoa  that occurred during the job fair — was conducted in both languages.)


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