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IT'S LIFE THREATENING: CT scanner at LBJ down for 2 weeks now

Tualauta faipule, Rep. Vui Florence Saulo [SN file photo]
Meanwhile, stroke patients head to Samoa and NZ for life saving treatment

Tualauta Faipule, Rep. Vui Florence Saulo is requesting the House Health Committee to set up a hearing with LBJ Hospital officials, to discuss the problem with the CT scanner which has been inoperable for over two weeks.

Vui told House members this week she was saddened to hear about the case of a young woman from her district, who was rushed to the hospital after she suffered a stroke but was told the CT scanner wasn't working.

Vui said the young woman's life was saved by the love of God, through a quick connection between the American Samoa Government and the New Zealand Government, which resulted in an air ambulance medivacing the patient to Auckland for treatment.

“Without the help from NZ, this young woman would have lost her life because of the CT scanner problem at the hospital," Vui said. "The doctor on duty couldn't do anything to check on her situation because the CT scanner was down."

Vui thanked Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, ASG, and the director of the local Medicaid office, Sandra King Young, for the efforts that she said saved the woman's life.

House Speaker, Savali Talavou Ale reminded Vui that the Governor’s Special Session will only cover the two items on the agenda, nothing else.

However, committee hearings to discuss essential issues involving the hospital and other issues pertaining to the health of the community will not stop; but, they will come after the special session.

House Health Committee chairman, Rep. Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr. said a hearing with officials from the hospital to discuss this issue will be called later this month.

A family member of the young woman, Vui spoke about, told Samoa News she was rushed to the hospital on Nov.11 and told by a doctor that there was nothing they could do, because the CT scanner wasn't working.

The woman was taken to the ICU while negotiations were underway for help.

The family member said their family requested for a medivac to Hawai’i to get her an MRI/CT, because the doctor at LBJ was only guessing the cause of the problem, and wasn't sure about the diagnosis because the CT scanner was down.

Two days after the woman was admitted to the ICU, family members asked the LBJ CEO for an update on the CT scanner and his response was — according to the family member — he didn’t know because it had been 3 weeks since the scanner was down.

Four days later, on Nov. 15, the woman's family received good news from the hospital. They confirmed that a medivac was ready to pick up the patient and take her to NZ for treatment. The air ambulance arrived at Pago Pago International Airport around 4:30 p.m. to pick up the woman and her husband.

The next day, the woman's husband posted a status on his Facebook page saying, “Talofa family and friends. We arrived safely in NZ and are at the Auckland City Hospital. After the CT scan, (it showed) my wife suffered a major stroke when in American Samoa. Brain swelling on right side and EMS surgery was done to drain liquid. Surgery successful and in recovery room.”

A similar situation was reported to Samoa News by the father of a young woman from Pava’ia’i, who was rushed to the Moto'otua Hospital in Apia after seeking help at LBJ but was told that the CT scanner wasn't working.

“God saved my daughter’s life," he said. "She was rushed twice to the LBJ hospital but the doctor told us there's nothing he can do, the scanner is down. We borrowed money from our church to pay for my wife and daughter’s fare to go to Samoa.”

According to the man, his daughter suffered a major stroke and they are seeking help from the Samoa government, to send the girl to NZ.

During last week's Cabinet meeting, LBJ CEO Faumuina Taufete’e Faumuina told directors the only problem the hospital is facing at this time has to do with the CT scanner — it had been down for two weeks so far, and a special engineer from off-island will arrive this week with a new part to install.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Lolo said the health of the people is always a challenge to the government, and it's something the government isn't taking lightly. He said people are complaining, even some doctors are pointing the finger at the government.

“Despite a lot of negative impressions from members of the public, I can assure you  the government will continue its service to the people,” Lolo said. He instructed the director of the Medicaid office, Sandra King Young to make time to explain to the community, via KVZK-TV, the reason why American Samoa is partnering with the NZ government, in patient treatment.

Lolo said he wants people to know that sending a patient to NZ for treatment is not only cheaper but the health service is good.

One of the issues that was discussed during the Two Samoa Talks this week in Apia, is the American Samoa Off-island Referral Program to NZ.

According to the meeting’s official record, both Health Authorities will continue to explore ways to address issues related to the transfer of American Samoa patients including the possibility of using Samoa Airways and direct flight links from American Samoa to NZ; facilitating transit visas for New Zealand; and the support services required during the patient’s transit in Samoa including the use of the Faleolo hospital.

Samoa requested that American Samoa look into arrangements to address the issues around payments of services provided to the patients while transiting in Samoa.

Given the different standards of medication, there is also a need to explore regional standards for medication and infections control and antibiotic guidelines.