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Galea'i will call Senate hearing over LBJ fiasco

"The hospital is not there to make a profit, it is there to serve the people."
fili@samoanews.com

A proposal to close the Primary Care Clinic at the LBJ Medical Center, whose board of directors appears to be in the middle of a disagreement over who the chief medical officer should report to, will be the main issue the Senate Government Operations Committee plans to tackle next month.
 
The 3rd Regular Session of the 33rd Legislature convenes on Jan. 13 next year and committee chairman Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli plans to call a hearing later that week to find out the cause of these “new issues” that have surfaced at LBJ.
 
As reported by Samoa News earlier this month, the new chief medical officer, Dr. Iotamo Saleapaga wrote to the hospital board recommending to close the Primary Care Clinic, by-passing the hospital’s chief executive officer Joseph Davis Fleming, who threatened to resign following Saleapaga’s action. 
 
Last week, board member Velega Savali, a former senator, voiced his concerns over board chairman Mase Akapo’s statement that media questions regarding management and operation of the hospital should go first to the board chairman, or the board vice chair if the chairman is unavailable.
 
Velega said it’s not the function of the board to operate and manage the hospital.
 
Based on media reports and other information he has received, Galeai said it appears there are some very serious disagreements among the board members as well as the relationship between the board and management personnel.
 
“This is not good for the health of our people. The board’s functions are clearly set by law and that is to establish policies to govern hospital operation,” Galeai told Samoa News. “We cannot stand by and allow the board and their people to fight over things as well as laying blame as who the staff should write to first, when the public’s health and welfare should be their priority.”
 
“From my point of view, it appears that the CEO is right, in that the CMO reports to the CEO, but Dr. Saleapaga instead went straight to the board,” Galeai said. “The hospital should have an organizational chart for all employees to follow the right protocol.”
 
Galeai is also concerned with Saleapaga’s proposal to close the Primary Care Clinic, which was set up in 2007 by the previous LBJ board and management so that non-emergency medical patients can use this clinic to take the pressure off the Emergency Room, allowing it to deal only with real emergencies.
 
“I’m concerned with such a proposal without conducting a thorough study. This clinic is working, serving people. So why change it? The hospital is not there to make a profit, its purpose is to serve the people,” he said. “Don’t do away with anything that is good for the people.”
 
In his letter to the board, Saleapaga said that financially, the hospital is not generating that much revenue due to fewer people being seen at the clinics.  (See Samoa News story Dec. 9 on Saleapaga’s letter)
 
Since Samoa News first reported on Saleapaga’s proposal to close the clinic, many people have has commented on our website voicing their opposition to such a move,  Several comments state that this clinic helps patients out in many ways and they also can make appointments, instead of just showing up at other LBJ clinics and waiting the whole day to be seen.
 
Samoa News notes that when it comes to confirmation nominations to the LBJ board, it is only the Senate that votes — in accordance with local statute.  Also according to statute, board members "may be removed by the Governor only for cause".



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