Nurses thanked for the service, told higher pay included in FY2015 budget
The best news for nurses at LBJ Medical Center marking Nurses Week in American Samoa is a proposal to hike their pay and this has been included in the hospital’s budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins on Oct. 1, 2014.
Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen, who is also an LBJ board member, delivered the good news during Tuesday’s nurse award ceremony at the hospital chapel. Among those present at the ceremony were Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, and hospital chief executive officer Joseph Davis-Fleming.
Faimealelei addressed the gathering on behalf of the board and its chairman and thanked all nurses in the territory for their service to the people and government of American Samoa.
Speaking in Samoan first, Faimealelei said pay scale for LBJ physicians have been raised recently, and this gives them a better salary level in comparison to contract physicians.
And as a board member, he says that he continues to push for pay hikes for nurses, especially those who have been nurses for many years in this important profession, so that their pay scale is comparable to contract nurses.
He said the ceremony does not involve any politics, and pointed out that pay hikes for nurses will be included in the new fiscal year budget.
He then informed Davis-Fleming in English that the upcoming budget proposal for the new fiscal year will include pay hikes for nurses “so we can compensate [them] for the long years of service that they have dedicated to the people of American Samoa”.
“So that’s my only pledge to them,” he told Davis-Fleming, and this resulted in applause from the nurses.
He also said some of the issues he has raised which are pending with the board are to provide nurses with proper equipment to carry out their work — and to address the nurse shortage faced by the hospital.
While a lot has been done to upgrade the hospital, such changes are not fully beneficial to the community unless the issues of providing sufficient and proper equipment as well as addressing nurse shortage are not resolved, he said, and asked nurses to be patient.
Health Department director Motusa Tuileama Nua provided brief remarks by first acknowledging the good news for LBJ nurses, adding that perhaps after the LBJ nurses receive their pay hikes, DoH will start working on a proposal to increase salaries for their nurses.
Lemanu spoke at the start of the ceremony and thanked nurses for their service. He also said that nurses’ many duties include having to deal with people who are constantly complaining. He said nurses must have a lot of patience when dealing with the public.
(Lemanu also spoke on Sunday during the Nurses’ Week Sunday service at CCCAS Nu’uuli)
Davis-Fleming, in his remarks, said he has served alongside nurses for over 30 years and that in his early days working in the health care profession, “I started pretty much working with nurses, including my time spent on a medical/surgical ward as a unit clerk.”
He noted this was a very important part of his journey in the development of his career as a hospital administrator in the making. “I learned so much from nursing, that it has molded me and guided me throughout my journey. And it made me appreciate all that you all do each and every day,” he told the nurses.
“For all that you do, I would like to express my deepest appreciation. You are the role models, especially those of you with many years of service,” he said.
LBJ director of nursing, Simamao F. Tuato’o told nurses that no matter the person seeking medical care from them, “the bottom line is they need our undivided attention and must be cared for.”
“As nurses that should be our mind set — to have a heart of compassion for all, regardless of race, gender, sex, religious preference, or beliefs. We all need to go the extra mile in doing the most good with the limited resources we may have,” she said.
“A big smile, a warm and kind heart should greet every patient regardless of the many issues that surround our personal lives,” she told her colleagues.
DoH director of nursing Margaret Sesepasara, in her remarks also thanked all those in the nursing profession and especially those who have been nurses for many years. She also pointed out that in her many years as a nurse, she has continued to encourage nurses to seek higher education and attain a higher level of knowledge, as this will be helpful to them.