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Career service EMS employees left in limbo

The LBJ hospital is unable to pay the 52 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) career employees says hospital CEO Mike Gerstenberger. The LBJ CEO was responding to queries regarding the EMS employees who did not receive their paychecks yesterday.  

As of yesterday, the 52 EMS career service employees that were transferred from the American Samoa Government to the hospital on January 1, 2012 had not received their paychecks. The LBJ CEO said, “The EMS is not on our payroll, and there has been no communication between the hospital and ASG regarding where the funding for the EMS payroll will come from.

He continued, “The only thing we received was the Executive Order from ASG migrating the EMS to the hospital. EMS came without a budget, and I don’t know where the hospital will get the funding to pay the EMS employees”, said the LBJ CEO.

“We have initiated a dialogue with Human Resources at ASG to plan the transition. The EMS has been shuffled around without an adequate budget for years. We have been trying since January to get a budget for EMS from ASG and no one has been able to produce one, nor has anyone suggested that funds be transferred in order for us to assume that responsibility.”

The CEO said he feels for those who are “caught in the middle.”

“They are doing what they are supposed to do, and not being compensated for their work.” he noted.

An EMS Lieutenant, who wished not to be named, said EMS personnel have been deleted from the ASG system and yet their names have not been entered into the LBJ system.

“This should have never happened in the first place, but we never know what’s going on” he said. “ASG deals with the hospital regarding the EMS and yet we have no voice in all of this, we are just sitting here in the dark not knowing what’s going on, and yet we are the ones that suffer.”

The Lieutenant said they were transferred from ASG to the hospital on January 1, 2012 and they have been getting their pay checks from ASG until this pay period, which was due yesterday. He said it’s unclear as to why they were not in the LBJ system, where they should have been since the Executive order was issued in January.

Samoa News visited the EMS base in Fagaalu, and observed the EMS units responding to emergencies and going about their daily operations.

EMS Chief Officer Galumalemana Fuapopo Avegalio told Samoa News that despite the situation at EMS, their mission comes first and that is to maintain their response capability to medical emergencies in the territory twenty-four and seven.

He said not getting paid is always a disappointment for any employee because we all have families to feed, village and church obligations and loans to pay. However, there are elderly citizens, parents and children who will need assistance from EMS and despite having no paycheck, it will not deter the men and women that work at EMS from their mission.

“We will leave the pay issue to the LBJ hospital authority administration to remedy while EMS focuses on those who need EMS assistance 24 hours a day and seven days a week,” said Galumalemana.