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Dr. Saleapaga continues to serve territory — through new clinic at DOH

Former LBJ Medical Center physician, Dr. Iotamo Saleapaga is preparing to set up a clinic next week at the Department of Health main office in Fagaalu to serve patients who are still seeking his medical help and especially his Samoan language skills when it comes to medical terms which are easily understood by elderly patients.

LBJ chief executive officer Mike Gerstenberger could only confirm this month to Samoa News that Saleapaga is no longer employed with the LBJ Medical Center but declined to comment further, saying this is a personnel matter.

Saleapaga, who has been a U.S. certified medical physician at LBJ for some 30-years, told Samoa News earlier this month that LBJ didn’t want to renew his contract for two more years and the his contract had expired at the end of August this year.

In an interview with Samoa News this week, Saleapaga said he is looking at next Monday to start a clinic at the DOH compound so that he can continue his service to the community.

He said it's very important to him to be able to continue medical service to the public, and he is also very appreciative to DOH for this opportunity. Saleapaga is currently working on setting up his office at the DOH’ and to make an appointment to see him, the office line is 633-5871 or 633-5872. 

Saleapaga said his door is open to anyone and he will not take away any patients from LBJ.

An American Samoan couple currently residing in Samoa were in the territory last week to see Saleapaga and were surprised to learn that the veteran physician is no longer with LBJ. They sought him out through other local residents.

Lesa Lameko said he and his wife travel here every two months for clinical visits to see Saleapaga, who communicates well with his patients in the Samoan language when dealing with medical terms.

Elderly patients who have been seeing Saleapaga for years at LBJ, prefer Saleapaga to other physicians because they are familiar with him, and he knows their medical conditions. 

During his years with LBJ, Saleapaga had served as medical services director, head of the medical clinic and several years ago served as health director, before the Health Department was separated from the hospital, and became an authority.

The Samoan version of this story was published in yesterday’s Samoa News edition of Le Lali.