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Public complains loudly at LBJ — about new fees, effective Monday morning

Members of the public are furious and disappointed with the LBJ hospital’s new fees. It is now $50 for any outpatient visit, $40 for each prescription, $250 for dialysis patients per visit, and admission to any ward is $100 per day, except the Intensive Care Unit which costs $200 per day.

 When Samoa News arrived at the pharmacy yesterday morning, a man in his 40’s was at the window complaining, saying that he cannot afford to pay the new fees.

  “If I don’t get my medicine and something happens to me — this is your fault!” the man was telling the pharmacy personnel. A few minutes later the man was asked to step into the pharmacy office.

When he exited the pharmacy office, the man said there was “no way” he was leaving the hospital without his medication, whether he had money or not. He said it’s his health on the line.

Samoa News also spoke to sixty-two year old Manuo Lemapu of Ili’ili who is diabetic. He was at the hospital getting his medication, an hour after the fee increase went into effect. Disappointed, Lemapu said it’s unbelievable the hospital still went through with the fee hike.

Lemapu, who is unemployed, said his son is the bread winner for his family and he makes about $150 a week. “My son gave me a hundred dollars this morning to refill my medicine, now it’s $40 per prescription and that would leave me with only $20, but I can’t afford to live the entire week on that $20. Lemapu said he’ll pay for one prescription and will come later for the second one.

He also said that he would seek medical treatment elsewhere, such as “fofo Samoa” (traditional healing methods) if he cannot afford the hospital fees.

 A furious pregnant woman was also turned away from the pharmacy, after she was not able to pay $40 for her medicine. The woman spoke to Samoa News on condition of anonymity, saying that — on top of the $40 for her medication — she was told to pay 10% of an outstanding bill she has with the hospital. The disappointed woman went home without her medicine.

 “The government failed to pay the hospital’s subsidy and yet I have to suffer for this. This is not fair”, she said.

An elderly diabetic man was told by the pharmacists he had to pay $80 for two prescriptions, so he had to call his children for assistance.

Samoa News notes that the pharmacy was not crowded, which is unusual for a Monday morning, or any given morning at the pharmacy. Unusual also, was the Emergency Room (ER) — as of 9 a.m. — had only five patients. A nurse on duty told Samoa News that, “Mondays are usually busy because of the weekend and yet today is a different Monday.”

 A security guard told Samoa News that on Sunday, the pharmacy was packed.

“I guess the public knew the fees would go up today (Monday) so they came in to get their re-fills done before the fee was in effect”, he said. The guard also noted that a couple of people were turned away because they had just received their medication last week and a few days later came in to get a re-fill, which is not allowed by the pharmacy.

Samoa News also observed a woman complaining to pharmacy personnel that since the fees were being increased, the service should be up to speed and the public should not wait for half an hour to get their medication. The pharmacy personnel told the woman to “please be patient”, saying they are doing everything they can to speed up the process. However, the woman’s voice became louder as she claimed that if the hospital hiked their fees, they should also speed up their service.

Samoa News observed the cashiers at the main window for the hospital had to refer a couple of patients to the business office, because they could not afford to pay $50 to see the doctor; while, a few patients did not encounter problems paying the new fee, because they were using their Medicaid plan.