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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 4) - Some 50 jobs at LBJ [Lyndon B. Johnson] Tropical Medical Center in American Samoa will be eliminated early this month as part of the hospital's fiscal reform plan, which Governor Togiola Tulafono had wanted before signing into law the US$10 million loan bill for LBJ.

"The fiscal reform plan still has some provisions that need to be finalized with the governor," said hospital chairman, Charles Warren responding to Samoa News inquiries yesterday.

Togiola had told Samoa News that he is happy with the reforms but there are still some important areas that both sides will need to finalize.

Among the reforms is the reduction of LBJ staff and Warren said, "This will affect about 80 positions, about 30 of which are already vacant due to attrition."

"The personnel manual changes will be effective January 5, so I expect LBJ to act on the remaining (50) positions early this month," he said. "The positions to be eliminated cut across just about all divisions, except no nursing or physician positions were eliminated."

For the reduction in clinic hours, Warren said it requires some changes to the personnel manual. "Now that those are complete, the reductions can go forward. Again, I would expect these reductions to be in place by month end."

The hospital is expected to save about US$800,000 in the elimination of these positions and more than US$400,000 in the reduction of clinical hours. Nurses and physicians hours are not affected.

"Other reform measures already in place," said Warren is that "LBJ has already closed the off-island (medical) referral office in Hawaii, and has not renewed the pharmacy consulting contract."

Another "reform is that the user fees have increased" (which is phase one and went into effect November 1, 2005) and the second phase is set to go into effect April 1 of this year, Warren said.

"The second phase will include the sliding discount schedule and charging those not entitled to 'free' healthcare the hospital's usual and customary rates," he added.

January 5, 2006

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