Velega tells gov he is resigning from LBJ board
Outspoken Hospital Board member Velega Savali has resigned as a member of the Hospital Board as of last Friday in a meeting with Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga.
Velega confirmed with Samoa News he has stepped down, because it is his passion to overturn the problems at the hospital, but that is not being met. He says his current position as a board member does not allow him to make decisions which he feels would better the hospital.
Samoa News yesterday received phone calls from members of the public appealing to Velega to remain on the hospital board, as they believe he can solve the numerous issues at the hospital, given his expertise and his leadership skills.
“In order for problems to be fixed at the hospital, we must go to the core of the problem and from there is where we start to remedy the ongoing predicaments at the hospital,” he told Samoa News, but he did not elaborate.
Velega said he asked the question to board members as to why, to date, there have been five CEO’s at the hospital, compared to other Semi Autonomy agencies like ASPA and ASTCA, where there have only been a couple. “This tells us there is something wrong, and something must be done about it,” he stated.
Velega did echo concerns raised by the Governor about the current hospital CEO, Joseph Davis Fleming, who is reportedly always traveling off island and hiring employees with high salaries.
“Also, mandates by the Governor have not been met, mandates which would benefit our people, like the off island referral program, the reduction of the current $20 fee to $10 to see a physician, and the recommendation to establish one fee structure for all residents of American Samoa, regardless of immigration status,” he added.
“Unless management is changed, then the new deliverables won’t be implemented,” said Velega.
Another issue which Velega pointed out is that when the CEO is off island, the Chief Medical Officer is in charge. “Key word is Medical Officer — how can the Chief Medical Officer run the hospital? They were hired to treat patients, yet they are doing something totally out of their field.”
Velega told Samoa News that unless they change how things operate in the hospital there will be no “real changes, which would benefit our people, who are suffering the most.”
Last month Velega told Samoa News that he was moving to have the hospital CEO, Joseph Davis Fleming, removed from his position, because he ‘failed to do his job’ as CEO. Emails to the Administration and chairman of the hospital board seeking comment were not returned as of press time.
Samoa News understands members of the public have been seeking assistance directly from the Governor and Lt Governor to help them with airfare and referral to a hospital off-island.
Last week, the Governor’s Executive Assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira told Samoa News that a 75-year-old woman visited the Governor and Lt. Governor, seeking such assistance, due to her heart condition. He said the hospital did not give any kind of assistance to the elderly woman.
“No assistance was given to her with regards to setting up an appointment with one of the medical institutions in Hawai’i … she was expected to do this on her own.”
Iulogologo noted, “It is rather sad that this elderly lady is further placed under unnecessary stress given her heart problems, because we lacked the basic human compassion to provide basic services to our people given that fact that the off-island referral program has been suspended for years.”