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Fate of Primary Care tol be decided after the holidays

joy@samoanews.com

The decision to close the Primary Care Clinic will not be made until 2014, after the holidays, says Chairman of the hospital board Mase Akapo.
 
“The Board will take up this matter after the holidays and we will review all the pros and cons on this issue and make a decision then.”
 
Last week LBJ Hospital CEO Joseph Davis Fleming threatened to tender his resignation upon learning that Chief Medical Officer Dr. Iotamo Saleapaga had asked the hospital board — directly — by-passing the authority of the CEO, to discontinue the services provided at the Primary Care Clinic.
 
Fleming in his letter stated he was never consulted about the Primary Care Clinic, and "the fact that the request has been submitted directly to the board without my involvement is not only inappropriate, but also disrespectful, insulting and a blatant act of insubordination, if the CMO is supposed to report to the CEO per his contract and job description approved by the board last month."
 
Dr. Saleapaga in his letter to the board regarding the Primary Care Clinic cited a low number of patients — approximately five patients per day — overstaffing, repetition of what the medical clinic is doing and not cost effective. The Primary Care Clinic was opened in June 2009 to alleviate the long wait at the Emergency Room as an ongoing effort to deliver better health care to residents.
 
Last week Samoa News sent queries to the hospital CEO about the Primary Care issue, and Chairman of the board Mase responded this week, noting that “all questions regarding management and operation of the LBJ Medical Center are sent to Mase Akapo, Chairman of the Board. If for some reason I cannot be reached, you can contact Dr. Tofaeono, who is the Vice Chairman of the Board.
 
“Please be informed that any and all information leaked or released to the media without approval of the Board is nothing more than unsubstantiated innuendo, rumors and false information and should be treated as such," he stated.
 
Mase further said that hospital policy is that no employee is allowed to release any information to the media regarding management and operation of the hospital without prior approval of the Board, and violators of this policy, when caught, will be dealt with appropriately.
 
Samoa News pointed out the governor’s mandates on transparency, and asked Mase about Lolo’s open door policy to the media. 
 
He responded saying, “The Board shares the Governor's mandate on transparency and will continue to work toward that goal. However, the Board governs and set policies on how the hospital should be run, and as such, we believe the Board should be the correct forum where information should be obtained.” 
 
Samoa News also asked about the post of Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the hospital — a seemingly newly created position. However, Mase told Samoa News that having a Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the hospital was initiated by the hospital’s CEO Davis-Fleming.
 
The chair explained the position of Deputy CMO is not a new position, it has been in existence since LBJ became an Authority, although it serves mainly at the discretion of the CMO and the CEO.  “Thus, it was recommended by the CEO that a DCMO position be re-established. The Board concurred and we now have a Deputy CMO.”
 
The Board has approved Dr. Annie Fuavai to be the Deputy CMO and this followed a recommendation by the new CMO Dr Iotamo Saleapaga, said Mase. He further explained that at the moment there will be no change in Dr. Fuavai's salary, but rather a change in functions.
 
“However, the Board will continue to work with the CEO and CMO to evaluate this position and its performances and will be guided by their recommendations in the future,” he said.
 
Mase noted that Dr. Fuavai will continue to see patients as she serves as the DCMO and will likely take up 50 - 60 % of her time seeing patients. “The CMO and CEO will determine where Dr .Fuavai will best serve our people and the hospital.” 



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