Police called to Fagaalu DOH to disperse people who refused to leave

They were told clinic only serves 20 people a day, 3 days a week, for health cards

Police were called to the Department of Health’s clinic in Fagaalu on Wednesday afternoon after a crowd of people, who were there for their health cards, with many having waited in line since early morning hours, refused to leave, after being told that the clinic only serves 20 people a day, according to a female business owner, who called Samoa News to complain about the situation.

She noted that her employees are currently losing money, as they are ‘in line’ and not working, because their health cards are not current; and she’s losing money — she has no workers, unless she allows them to continue to work, while they try to renew their health cards. In a catch-22 situation, allowing employees to work without a current health card could lead to a citation from DOH inspectors, if caught; and her place of business being shut down until employees, including herself, renew their cards.

The clinic opens on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for health cards — with 20 customers a day. Health cards are renewed each year and are required for food handlers and cannery workers in order to work.

According to ASG sources, some of the people who showed up on Wednesday needed health clearances, not health cards; and therefore could have utilized the DoH clinic in Tafuna. Health clearances are required for people such as taxi and bus drivers applying for commercial licenses.

DoH officials told Samoa News that a physician is based at the Tafuna clinic to conduct health checks for commercial drivers.

And, a taxi driver based in Tafuna and a bus driver from Fagaalu said they both used the Tafuna clinic because it’s easy and there is “no long wait.”

With the Fono set to return next week, some residents plan to contact their lawmaker to lodge complaints about the alleged problem of getting a health card at DoH.

Based on information received by Samoa News, an estimated 200 people were at the DoH/ Fagaalu clinic on Wednesday — some of them were there since 4 a.m. so they would be first in line when the office opened at 7:30a.m.

Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua was in Manu’a yesterday and couldn’t be reached for comments via cell phone, and deputy director Fara Utu didn’t immediately respond to Samoa News email questions sent yesterday morning.

Samoa News reported in its Lali section in November that the health clinic had completed its renovations, and was once again issuing health clearances and health cards.

A health clearance requires vital checks, including vision and weight, but not a lab test, which is required for food handlers and cannery workers to get a health card.

The Fagaalu Health Clinic staff told Samoa News with only one physician assigned there (for both services), the policy was set at only 20 people per day for health cards and only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And it’s on a first-come, first-served basis.

This was the same explanation given to a Samoa News reporter who visited the clinic yesterday morning. The clinic staff said the first 20 people were allowed in on Wednesday when the clinic opened and everyone else was informed that that was it for the day and to come back Friday (today).

However, staff said many people wouldn’t leave and stayed there, resulting in police being contacted out of concern for their safety, as the crowd became restless, refusing to leave even though staff demanded they disperse.

Clinic staff said they didn’t have problems last month with the 20-people per day policy. This week Wednesday was the first time problems with the policy surfaced.

Samoa News also learned yesterday that many of those who showed up on Wednesday were cannery workers who wanted to renew their health cards before they return to work on Jan. 15th. Some cannery workers were off island and recently return to the territory and were rushing to get their health cards.

With Monday being a New Year’s Day holiday — offices were closed — which led to people packing the clinic on Wednesday.

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