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DOH Director Motusa Nua defends personnel changes

“The main purpose for personnel changes within the Department of Health is for the betterment of the department. I came in and saw the need to make these new changes and as a leader, I acted. Any little change they (DOH employees) oppose, sorry.  I’m here to meet the needs of the public… not their needs.” This was the response from DOH director Motusa Tuileama Toatolu Nua when asked about his thoughts on complaints by DOH employees regarding personnel changes.


Last week, Motusa hired three people from the Information Technology Office. They are: Easter Bruce, Jacinta Tialavea, and Martha Folegi. Additionally, Motusa also hired Papali’i Marion Fitisemanu from the Governor’s Office. “I fought hard to have these people transferred to our office, simply because we need them,” said Motusa.


The Health Director told Samoa News that Bruce will oversee the IT in their office, because DOH needs to have security on the health information of each civilian that visits the clinics. “It’s unbelievable that while the hospital has everything documented online, we don’t; and it’s about time that DOH is upgraded to that level."


Motusa said with her experience, Bruce "will get DOH online in no time and this is what DOH needs — to have information documented online.” He said Tialavea has a finance background and is now overseeing DOH grants. "She’s an experienced finance person who will get the job done."


Motusa pointed out that DOH has many grants and they are not being handled properly. He added that the person currently there was inactive as far as performing job duties.


As for Folegi, Motusa said “she’s ex-military like me, and has background in human resources. She’s the perfect person to oversee human resources and deal with issues coming out of that division." Motusa said he plans to address issues surrounding workforce development and Folegi "is the right person to work in this area."


Motusa explained that the transfers were necessary to meet the medical health mission in order to serve the people and their needs.


He referred to Fitisemanu and said DOH is overwhelmed with issues regarding products being sold near the road, within stores, restaurants and at the market place and addressing that issue would be up Fitisemanu's alley — as he has enforcement background and that is why he hired him as the new DOH Chief Compliance Officer.


“Marion will be the hammer for DOH as far as enforcing health laws,” Motusa said. He explained that there are eight men who are working in this division and Marion would be the right leader, given his background as a military man and former law enforcement officer.




Samoa News was contacted via emails and phone calls from DOH employees pointing to the new personnel changes and claiming that the changes involved politics as the positions were not advertised.


Last week, Motusa appointed Dottie Siavii as the DOH Associate Director of Nursing and Fara Utu as DOH Acting Deputy Director and lead person for the NCD program, replacing Jackie Tulafono.


Motusa defended his decision by saying that Utu and Saivii were highly recommended by DOH officials, adding that during the transition period, Utu and Siavii were very cooperative in relaying information and they have always lent him a helping hand since he took over as DOH director.  


In a memo issued last week to all DOH employees, Motusa said Utu brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the healthcare field which will greatly improve DOH operations. All program managers will report directly to Utu for all issues pertaining to operations, grants, funding and supplies.


Motusa encouraged DOH employees to discuss issues with Utu before making an appointment to meet with him, as he has full confidence that Utu will listen and take care of their concerns.


The DOH director told the Samoa News that Utu has great leadership skills and making her Acting Deputy Director is the right move.


As for Siavi'i, Motusa said “There has been a shortage of nurses for quite some time and I have made it a priority to support workforce development to increase training and recruitment to address the nursing shortage."


He said Siavii will be a strong and positive asset to the Director of Nursing and the Nurses Corps. He concluded by saying that he is moving to realign resources and personnel to enhance department operations but more importantly, to increase the quality of healthcare services provided to the people of American Samoa.


In the meantime, Motusa and a team of 20 DOH employees, including nurses and physicians are currently in Manu’a for two weeks conducting home visits for Manu’a residents.