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Lolo has lots of criticism for LBJ admin and board

Actions by hospital CEO, Joseph Davis Fleming are “unacceptable,” when it comes to hiring employees with high salaries and frequent travel off island, said Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in a letter sent yesterday to LBJ Hospital Board members.


The governor pointed out that personnel costs are $8 million higher than the previous year, indicating that there hasn’t been any genuine effort to reduce these costs or the overall cost of operations.


The governor pointed out that last week he called an emergency meeting with the hospital board, following requests from members of the public seeking the governor’s assistance to secure airfares for three critically ill patients that the Off-Island Medical Committee had approved for travel.


“It was disconcerting for me when I was told that the patients not only had to finance their airfares but they also had to shoulder the full cost of their off island medical care, and while patients scrunched for airfares, your CEO traveled consistently,” said Governor Lolo.


Lolo pointed out that this is not an acceptable scenario especially when the FY 2014 is $17million greater than the FY2013 Budget.


“Moreover, the hospital board implemented its Reorganization and Reclassification initiative which supposedly would reduce your personnel costs. I find it very disturbing the hiring practices that are being adopted by the CEO directly contradicting the board’s attempt to contain costs.”


The governor pointed out that the CEO has hired three people to do the job that can be done by one person and the assigned salaries are very high.


The governor noted that members of the board requested a chance to go back to address the concerns raised and will get back to the governor in two weeks time to discuss the hospital board’s work plan to improve the quality of health care services to the people. The work plan is to include the resumption of the off island medical referral program.


Lolo said one of the things at the onset of this new administration was to provide, through Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, the deliverables that he wants addressed.


“I am very disappointed to say that many deliverables were not accomplished,” he noted. Samoa News points out that some of the deliverables to which Governor Lolo is referring are the reduction of the current $20 fee to $10 to see a physician and the recommendation to establish one fee structure for all residents of American Samoa regardless of immigration status.


 The intended separation of primary care activities from the hospital was also not accomplished, he noted. 


Likewise, the governor’s intention to reconsider the free Medical Attention Mandate did not receive any attention, and the government can no longer continue to assume the full financial burden associated with the provision of health care services, he said, noting that the free medical attention provision is part of current law and must be changed to reflect the government’s financial capacity.


Appropriate amendments are submitted to meet this needed change and these mandates are expected to be achieved this year, Lolo said.


In his address at the opening of the Fono last week, the governor pointed out that his collective expectations on healthcare service improvement at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center did not materialize. He said the mandate calling for major changes at LBJ remains unfulfilled and admitted that “there are a lot of problems at the hospital” but also he said he’s thankful to the Fono for confirming the hospital’s full board who are now working to help improve the hospital.


The board’s efforts to readjust the “unrealistic salaries of key management staff” in reference to the financial capacity of LBJ has been stymied by administrative controversy, he said, adding that the hospital board has been urged to focus its attention on improving the quality of healthcare services to the people.


In his letter to the hospital board on Thursday, the governor also demanded to see the most up-to-date financial statements for FY 2013 and the first quarter of FY 2014.