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Primary Care docs have options, says Saleapaga

Two physicians at LBJ Medical Center that appear unhappy with the merging of the Primary Care Clinic and Medical Clinic as well as additional duties given to them, have been told that “there are options available.”


In an April 7 letter to LBJ physicians, chief medical officer Dr. Iotamo Saleapaga, who signed the letter as Medical Director, announced the merging of the two clinics and outlined new or additional duties for physicians from the former Primary Care. (See Samoa News edition Apr. 11 for details.


Then the following day, Apr. 8, Saleapaga sent a letter to two Primary Care physicians saying that a meeting was held between members of the medical staff of Primary Care and physicians of Internal Medicine before the announcement of the merger to discuss the proposed unification of the two units.


Responsibilities for one becoming a hospitalist and/or seeing patients at the medical clinic were divulged during that meeting, he said. (The term "hospitalist" refers to physicians whose practice emphasizes providing care for hospitalized patients, according to the University of California-San Diego’s Department of Medicine website)


“There was concern from your staff about not being comfortable with the responsibilities of becoming a hospitalist with Internal Medicine, and that concern was taken into great consideration by offering you a choice of seeing patients in the medicine clinic only,” Saleapaga wrote.


Based on the LBJ board “ruling” to merge the two units, “if you work with the Internal Medicine Department, you will work as one of the team members within the unit. That at any time the unit is short staffed with hospitalists you will be schedule to take on calls,” he said. “You will continue to see your scheduled follow up patients as well as the overflow of patients from the existing Medical Clinic.”


Saleapaga also asked the physicians to allow time every day from Monday to Friday for walk-ins.


 “If at any time you are not happy with this decision there are options available,” he said but didn’t give examples of options.  Copies of the letter were sent to board members, CEO and three others.


See tomorrow’s Samoa News edition on more details of what the CEO has to say about Saleapaga and the board chairman’s response.