Medical symposium focuses on role of primary care
U.S. certified physician Dr. Fred Uhrle has called for medical professions in American Samoa to do more to help educate patients about their ailment and for the need to have a robust primary care program team to monitor patients.
Uhrle, who is a physician at the VA Clinic in Tafuna, was among the invited guests to the Saturday’s inaugural Medical Symposium held at the Governor Rex Lee Auditorium. The event, which attracted more than 40 local and off-island delegates was described by LBJ’s Dr. Mike Favazza as a “historical and landmark event” to bring together medical professionals “to really combat these non-communicable diseases in the territory.”
During a panel discussion following the morning session, titled ‘Non-Communicable Disease focusing on Diabetes Type II” - which is more common in the territory, several comments were made by attendees, including Uhrle who told the gathering that “diabetes is preventable and controllable but we’re not treating our patients well enough to understand what they have.”
“When the patient fails, I look at it as a failure on my part and not providing the education that they need to understand the things that they have. We need to do a better job at that, to prevent it.”
He also supported comments made earlier by Dr. Faiese Roby of DOH that “we need a robust primary care program team that will teach patients and monitor patients”.
“We’re basically - and I include myself - putting out fires and like the fireman, they run out of water, and you don’t have everything there, to take care of patients,” said Uhrle, “We need better education, we need better primary care to provide the services that are necessary.”
He also echoed comments made earlier by a hospital physician that a lot of patients after they are saved by doctors end up being readmitted to the hospital “with another worse [situation] because they never got back to their primary care for management.”
He pointed out that the “hospital recently tried to develop a program, that could bridge those patients to where they could be safe and kept out of the hospital and hopefully prevented from being readmitted to the hospital.”
“But that program is discontinued, because of a misunderstanding on our views on what is necessary to take care of these patients,” Uhrle said. “We as physicians and nurses, need to be out in the forefront and standing for our patients.”
Uhrle didn’t identify the program that was discontinued by LBJ. However, Samoa News should point out that late last year, the former hospital administration and board of directors launched the Care Management Service program, which is intended to improve the quality of life for those patients with Non-Communicable Diseases, or NCDs, and to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates associated with those conditions.
It was also to make sure that patients take their medication as well as ensuring that orders by physicians are followed with the goal that patients are not readmitted to the hospital.
However, the program was eliminated when the new LBJ board took office early this year.
More on the panel discussion in tomorrow’s edition.
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